In a story that broke Sunday night on the Salt Lake Tribune, it appears that another online payment processor has been discovered by the Federal Trade Commission. Utah businessman and philanthropist Jeremy Johnson is reported to have concealed $51.4 Million in online poker payments through a network of shell companies.
The recent findings come as part of a FTC suit against Johnson and nine others that was filed in federal court in 2010. Johnson ran an elaborate scam where customers would sign up for products online such as government grant programs or other money making schemes, and then would charge them for other products and memberships they never signed up for. In total, over $289 Million was scammed from customers. He made approximately $350 Million in total between legitimate and illegitimate services.
Robb Evans & Associates were appointed as receiver to take over Johnson’s companies and assets in order to preserve them and during the course of their investigation they found 65 additional companies that were “involved in moving and concealing” assets. Todd and Jason Vowell both helped Johnson move funds around.
Johnson claims that the money that the receiver discovered is not actually his and he never tried to move around assets. Johnson also asserts that a majority of the money was from funds that piled up at SunFirst and were processed through the Vowell’s company Triple 7. He also claims the online poker companies they served gave them permission to invest that money. He said, “They said they could not afford to have us stop processing so they gave permission for Triple 7 to invest the money until they could get their account overseas figured out.”
The receiver contends that the Vowell’s were owners of Triple 7 in name only and Johnson is indeed the owner of the company. According to the receiver’s report, close to $25 Million was sent to Ameritrade and used to purchase shares of stock. Another $5.5 Million was sent to bank accounts in Cypress and Andorra.
Black Friday indicted payment processor Chad Elie testified last year in court that he and Johnson were partners in online payment processing and that Johnson showed him caches of gold, silver, cash, and coins that he was hiding them in case he got investigated or sued. Johnson was not named in the Black Friday indictments.
Johnson faces a single count of fraud in U.S. District Court in Utah and plead not guilty. However, that could change as prosecutor Brent Ward said that a new indictment with additional charges against Johnson should be filed around May.