Husband and wife Shannon Johnson (49) and Yvette Johnson (50) of Laytonsville, Maryland, and Corona, California, were indicted on charges in connection with an alleged fraudulent advance fee scheme and tax evasion and ordered to appear in court August 1.
The twenty-six count indictment alleges that the Johnsons ran an advance fee scheme from 2006 to 2009. Shannon Johnson allegedly held himself out as a wealthy international investment banker who could provide millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars and euros in financing to businesses and individuals. In return for substantial advance banking fees, the Johnsons promised to provide investors with money they claimed they held in an overseas bank account.
The Johnsons developed relationships with pastors, ministers, and religious-based organizations to sell themselves as philanthropists on a humanitarian mission. Clients wired and mailed the advance fees to multiple bank accounts controlled by the Johnsons in different states.
Despite receiving approximately $3.7 million in advance fees from individuals and businesses, the Johnsons never provided the promised financing. Instead, they allegedly used the money to:
- Purchase Bentley, Mercedes Benz, and BMW automobiles;
- Lease a $3.5-million residence in California for $18,000 a month;
- Travel on private jets; and
- Pay the mortgage on their Laytonsville residence.
The Johnsons allegedly:
- Filed individual tax returns for the tax years 1998 through 2001 using false W-2s to fraudulently generate a total of $66,097 in refund claims,
- Evaded the payment of their 2002 through 2006 corporate and individual taxes totaling $98,220, and
- Evaded the assessment of their 2007 through 2009 taxes.
In addition, they attempted to conceal their income and assets from the IRS by:
- Selling assets in their own names,
- Titling assets in the names of nominees,
- Using multiple bank accounts in three states to disperse and conceal income,
- Using nominees and fraudulent taxpayer identification numbers to open and maintain bank accounts, and
- Using multiple business names to conduct business.
The Johnsons face:
- A maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud,
- Twenty years in prison on each of four counts to commit wire fraud and one count of mail fraud,
- Ten years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering,
- Ten years in prison on each of fourteen counts for money laundering,
- Three years in prison for corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the IRS, and
- Five years in prison on each of four counts for tax evasion.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $3.7 million.
Source: US Department of Justice