Office of Public Affairs Four men plead guilty in $18M global investment fraud scheme

A federal jury in the Western District of Arkansas convicted four men yesterday of their leading roles in an investment fraud and money laundering conspiracy that defrauded victims of more than $18 million.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. “Defendants abused their position of trust to lure victims into parting with more than $18 million,” Argentieri said. “The defendants then used their financial backgrounds to systematically launder money through a web of international bank accounts. This case stands as a stark message to those who cheat others for their personal gain: You will be found, you will be prosecuted and you will be convicted.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between at least 2013 and 2021, John C. Nock, 55, of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Brian Britsan, 67, of San Marcos, Calif.; Kevin Griffith, 67, of Orem, Utah; and Alexander Ituma, 57, of Lehigh, Utah, conspired to engage in an investment fraud scheme through an entity known as “The Brittingham Group,” which Nock founded. Collectively, the four defendants falsely represented the nature of their investment proposition and promised outsized returns to victims that, in reality, the defendants could not and would not make. To promote and conceal the conspiracy, Nock and Britson directed victims to wire their money into bank accounts controlled by Griffiths, Ituma and other co-conspirators. Once the money was in the hands of the co-conspirators, the defendants transferred the victims’ money through a complex web of bank accounts worldwide.

“Plain and simple, these four men carried out a fraudulent scheme. They falsely represented the nature of their business and lied about potential investment returns to unsuspecting victims to the tune of more than $18 million,” said IRS Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) Chief Jim Lee. “I commend the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section who prosecuted the case, and our special agents and partners at the FBI for unraveling the complex web of financial transactions that led to the defendants’ convictions yesterday.”

“The conviction of these defendants sends a strong message to criminals who commit financial crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, destroy families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors millions of dollars,” said Luis Quesada, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division. “The FBI would like to remind investors to be diligent and gather as much information as possible before making any investment. The FBI will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who break the law and violate the public trust.”

The jury convicted each defendant of wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count. The jury convicted Nock of money laundering for which he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The IRS-CI and the FBI investigated the case. U.S. Attorney David Clay Foulkes and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas provided invaluable assistance.

Trial attorneys Philip Trout, Vasantha Sreedharan, and Sarah A. Hallmark of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Division are prosecuting the case.

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