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Contact: Jen Fanger
Rokita partnered with Prosecutor to bring charges against man who marketed fraudulent commodities deals in multiple states
Crown Point, IN - Teamwork between Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita's Prosecution Assistance Unit (PAU) and the Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter's office resulted in a criminal plea agreement today to the Lake County Superior Court. Following an investigation that began more than two years ago, Lake County resident Elbert Elliot plead guilty to 8 counts of Class D Felony theft and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with 5 years to serve and 10 years probation. Elliot was also ordered to pay $538,176.40 in restitution to his victims. His prison term will begin in May, 2007.
Elliot's company, Worldwide Gold Emporium, Inc. advertised throughout the United States that they sold commodities, including gold, silver, and platinum. Through inquiries and cold calling, Elliot convinced investors that the precious metals he sold were safe investments. He accepted payment to purchase the commodities, sent certificates listing the weight of the purchases, and guaranteed investors that the purchases were safely deposited at an undisclosed holding facility.
The investors periodically received counterfeit statements from Elliot offering updates on the market and how much their investments had appreciated, and were then solicited to make additional purchases.
Throughout the duration of the scam, Elliot pocketed at least $538,176 from investors in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Although none of Elliot's victims resided in Indiana, the PAU and the Lake County Prosecutor's office moved forward with the investigation because Elliot was not licensed and registered in Indiana to act as a broker-dealer of commodities.
“We're simply not willing to let scam artists use Indiana as a haven for criminal activity,” said Rokita. “This case illustrates the work we are doing to protect investors and Northwest Indiana's economy from damage caused by fraudulent investments. I commend the members of the PAU, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, and Deputy Prosecutor Kerry Corliss for their action on this important matter.”
The PAU was created by Rokita in 2004 to further existing investigations and facilitate local law enforcement's prosecution of alleged Securities Act violations. The focus of the PAU is to assist state prosecutors in an effort to work together at the courthouse and Statehouse to root out white-collar crime. By working with law enforcement throughout the state, the office has helped to file charges in 26 high-profile investment fraud cases in Indiana, and has a 19 to 1 conviction-to-dismissal record, with more than 175 years of jail time sentenced to-date.
Investors are encouraged to do their homework and check out investment opportunities by visiting www.IndianaInvestmentWatch.com or by calling 1-800-223-8791.