A Maryland man who pleaded guilty to operating a debt buying Ponzi scheme that took $396 million from investors has been sentenced to 22 years in prison and must make full restitution to all of his victims.
Kevin Merrill agreed in May to plead guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as well as attempting to obstruct justice by working with his wife to hide assets from a safe in their home and conceal assets from the court.
Merrill, along with Jay B. Ledford, and Cameron R. Jezierski, are accused of creating fake companies, such as Delmarva Capital, Global Credit Recovery, LLC, and Rhino Capital Holdings, and falsifying bank statements and manufacturing phony sales agreements to make their actions seem legitimate. Prosecutors allege the three men spent more than $73 million of the money to buy houses, gamble in casinos, and make other extravagant purchases.
The scheme involved convincing investors that their money would be used to purchase portfolios of consumer debt, collect on those portfolios, and then sell them for a profit to other debt buyers, according to prosecutors.