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Camargo, Cassim, Nelson and Skillern

U.S. fraudsters who targeted U.K. investors with gold scam jailed for 25 years

Four American fraudsters who conned hundreds of British citizens out of millions of pounds through a bogus gold mining investment scheme have today been sentenced to prison in Tampa, Florida.

Adriana Camargo, 37, Naadir Cassim, 40, Jon Nelson, 69, and Michael Skillern, 49, were sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison after being convicted in February of conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and mail fraud offences. Cassim, Nelson and Skillern were also convicted of wire fraud. Cassim was also convicted of illegal monetary transactions.  

The court ordered $7.2 million to be forfeited from the group.  

The investigation, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and supported by the City of London Police, Spanish National Police and U.S. Attorney’s Office, revealed how the gang set-up a Spanish-based boiler room and then had operatives cold-calling potential investors in both the U.S.A. and the U.K.

Their targets were aggressively sold a scheme, named Own Gold LLC, which would supposedly see huge amounts of gold mined out of Nevada and Montana over the following year.

In reality this was all a fabrication, with the over $7 million made by the four defendants being used to enrich themselves and perpetuate the fraud scheme.

Of the 400 plus people who invested money in the scheme, the vast majority lived in Britain. Among them, victims M.S., A.F., W.F., and D.M. travel​led to Tampa to testify at trial. Combined, these four British victims suffered losses of over $720,000 USD.

By 2012, the City of London Police were running their own investigation into a European-wide network of boiler rooms – Operation Rico - that were targeting thousands of U.K. citizens.

As part of their own intelligence gathering, City of London Police detectives observed Naadir Cassim and Adriana Camargo meeting Jon Nelson in Birmingham, information they passed back to their counterparts in the U.S.A.

In February 2014, the City of London Police’s biggest ever overseas deployment of officers led to the arrest of 110 suspected boiler room fraudsters, the majority of whom were located in Spain.

Two of the people arrested in Barcelona during this day of action were Adriana Camargo and Naadir Cassim. On the same day, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested Jon Nelson and Michael Skillern in Houston, Texas.

Since then the City of London Police has continued to assist U.S. law enforcement, with the British force sharing intelligence and liaising with victims of the Own Gold scam.

James Mancuso, Attaché of the HSI mission at the U.S. Embassy in London, said: “We received extraordinary support from the City of London Police and we share this success with them. Their contributions helped us to dismantle this fraud scheme and hold those responsible to account. These results highlight the value of HSI’s bilateral efforts and our commitment to our international partners.”

Acting Detective Inspector John Ellis, who leads the Operation Rico investigation team for the City of London Police, said:

“The imprisonment of these individuals shows how international law enforcement can work together to dismantle investment frauds that continue to target U.K. citizens.

“It also reinforces the importance of people in this country being extremely cautious about investing their money in schemes where the first approach comes from a cold-caller promising high returns. Ideally they simply would not engage at all and just hang-up the phone.”

Adriana Camargo, 37, was sentenced to a total of two years.

Naadir Cassim, 40, was sentenced to a total of five years.

Jon Nelson, 69, was sentenced to a total of eight years.

Michael Skillern, 49, was sentenced to a total of ten years.  

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