A federal jury in Washington, D.C. has convicted a Kenyan national for carrying out an advance fee and investment fraud scheme that defrauded numerous victims.
Paul Maucha, 58, who lives in Washington, D.C., was found guilty on Friday of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property.
He now faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the conspiracy and wire fraud charges, and up to 10 years for the money laundering charges.
According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial, Maucha worked with a co-conspirator to make false representations to victims through a shell company he controlled called American Eagle Services Group Inc. (AESG).
They promised loans to victims seeking financing, requiring them to first pay an advance fee to AESG.
Maucha and his partner lied about the purpose of the fees, telling victims they were refundable if AESG did not provide the loans. However, the two men knew AESG did not have the capital to fund the loans at the time the agreements were made.
They split the fees between themselves and spent the money rather than holding it to refund victims.
“This conviction shows that those who seek to profit through deceit and empty promises will be held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri. “
The Department of Justice will continue prosecuting fraud schemes that prey on innocent victims.”
The scheme operated through false claims about AESG’s assets and access to capital. Maucha portrayed the company as capable of providing major loans while concealing that it lacked the funds to do so. The advance fees were solicited under false pretenses.
“The defendant defrauded hard-working individuals who were seeking loans by making big promises backed by outright lies,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves. “This case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the public from deception and financial abuse.”
Maucha faces sentencing on May 16. The judge will determine the sentence based on federal guidelines and other factors. He could potentially serve decades behind bars for the fraud convictions.
“This defendant took advantage of victims who believed his company’s claims and thought their application fees would be refunded if loans weren’t funded,” said FBI Special Agent Keri Farley. “In reality, he used deception and empty promises to line his own pockets at the expense of innocent people.”
The FBI investigated the case with help from Homeland Security Investigations. The Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the charges.
Officials said the conviction shows law enforcement’s commitment to uncovering financial fraud schemes and holding accountable those who enrich themselves through lies and misleading claims.
Members of the public are urged to exercise caution when dealing with purported lenders and businesses requiring upfront fees.