Money laundering scam gets Fort Smith man five years


A Fort Smith man was sentenced to five years in federal prison this week for mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering committed March 2013 to November 2015.

Samuel Bowron Phillips, 41, of Fort Smith devised and carried out a scheme to defraud customers of his insurance business by withdrawing funds from their annuity and insurance policies without their knowledge or consent, according to court records

Phillips was ordered to pay approximately $1.6 million in restitution to his victims. His prison time will by followed by three years of supervised release. Chief Judge P. K. Holmes III presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Fort Smith. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner prosecuted the case for the United States.

Phillips used that money for his own personal benefit and gain, according to Kenneth Elser, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. An investigation began after a complaint was filed in October 2015 with the Arkansas Insurance Commission. Business owners and residents discovered annuities Phillips sold them were nonexistent. They also discovered statements that Phillips had given business owners were fabricated, and the money they had given Phillips to invest for their retirement was gone, Elser noted.

“Phillips admitted that he created two sham companies, Stevens Financial Asset Management and Paradigm Financial Partners LLC, and opened accounts for those entities,” a U.S. Attorneys office news release states. “He used a fake name to conceal his connection to the fraudulent transactions and admitted he rented post office boxes in Fort Smith and Barling to receive mail for the two bogus companies he created to steal his customer’s money. Phillips was indicted by a federal grand jury in March, 2016 and pleaded guilty in June 2016.”

Tracey D. Montaño, Special Agent in Charge with IRS Criminal Investigation, explained that illegal activity involving the investment industry has brought “financial ruin to many Americans.”

“Today’s sentencing of Phillips reflects a fitting punishment for an individual who committed wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering,” L. Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office, added. “Phillips deceived and stole from his customers who trusted him and believed in him.”

Upchurch noted their partners were the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas, the IRS, the Postal Inspection Service, the Arkansas Department of Insurance, and the Fayetteville Police Department.”

This case was investigated by the FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the Postal Inspection Service, the Arkansas Department of Insurance, and the Fayetteville Police Department.


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