Driven by greed, a small town Georgia man saw an opportunity to make millions and took it.
In one year, he scammed retired teachers and dental hygienists out of more than $7 million. Then quickly poured the millions on lavish living, luxury cars and a carefree lifestyle.
On Tuesday, a federal jury took away his freedom. They found Mr. Jeffrey Wallace Edwards, 46, of Bremen, and his corporation, “Frontier Holdings, Inc.,” guilty of mail and wire frauds as well as money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Mr. Edwards netted millions by promising unsuspecting clients a special “high yield” return. But it was only the beginning of a string of lies that would quickly unravel, but only after 31 victims were caught in his web of deceit.
“Financial and investment fraud claims victims from all parts of our community. In this case, the jury found that a man from a small town in west Georgia successfully persuaded investors from around the country that with his supposed contacts with a former vice president and a Federal Reserve chairman, he could make their money multiply into millions,” U. S. Attorney Mrs. Sally Quillian Yates said. “He persuaded retired teachers and dental hygienists to give them the equity in their homes and retirement plans.
“Then he spent the victims’ hard-earned money on lavish vacation cruises, real estate, fur coats, tiki carvings, and luxury cars.”
Between February 2006 and February 2007, investigators said Mr. Edwards promised investors they would receive high returns on the money they placed in the “high yield” investment programs he had with the Federal Reserve Bank.
He dangled returns ranging from 41 percent to as high as 1,066 percent, the U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Mr. Patrick Crosby said.
Mr. Edwards also claimed to own a bank, to have access to lucrative but confidential investment opportunities, or to be a “special agent” of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Crosby said.
He convinced 31 victims to mail or electronically transfer over $7 million to him, the spokesman said.
“He spent the money quickly, and when the victims started demanding payment, he blamed “the banking industry” and “the powers that be” for delaying payment from his phantom investments,” Mr. Crosby said.
Mr. Edwards and his corporation were originally indicted on May 6, 2009; a superseding indictment was returned on February 15, 2011, Mr. Crosby said.
Mr. Edwards and Frontier Holdings were found guilty on two counts of mail fraud, 17 counts of wire fraud, and eleven counts of money laundering, Mr. Crosby said.
The mail and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. The money laundering charges each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 per count.
Mr. Edwards is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.