Washington, DC - A Texas man pleaded guilty today to defrauding victims around the United States by selling them fake “standby letters of credit” and other forged and fraudulent bank documents.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
James Pierce, 43, of Spring, Texas, pleaded guilty to a three-count indictment charging him with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the District of Columbia. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2020, before Judge Howell.
As part of his guilty plea, Pierce admitted that he and his co-conspirators falsely represented to their victims that they had a relationship with a bank located in the Dominican Republic (“Bank 1”), that they could use to secure financing for the victims’ large commercial transactions. In exchange for six-figure fees paid by the victims, the defendant and his co-conspirators falsely promised that the victims could gain access to credit at Bank 1. They further represented that Bank 1 would issue Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) inter-bank messages to banks designated by the victims, showing that the victims had access to such credit. In reality, the defendant and his co-conspirators had no such relationship with Bank 1, and provided the victims with fake Bank 1 documentation falsely showing that it had transmitted the promised bank instruments. When the victims did not receive their SWIFT messages, the defendant and his co-conspirators gave the victims excuses and false statements, and in several instances, fraudulently induced the victims to pay additional money to have their bank documentation “re-issued” – which also never happened. Pierce also used a website and email address at jpierceinvestments.com to carry out the fraud.
The FBI investigated the case. Trial Attorney Blake Goebel and Assistant Chief Justin Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.