Rick Young, of Lewistown, Montana, was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his role in an investment scheme carried out by his Nevada-based company, Global One Group LLC (Global One).
U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks in Reno also ordered Young to pay $13.2 million in restitution.
According to prosecutors, Young and his partner, William Willard, defrauded more than 1,700 investors through Global One from 2006 to 2007. Young represented himself as a successful trader in the foreign currency exchange market (FOREX), and marketed Global One as an online training forum where individual investors could learn how to trade profitably in the high-risk market. Young also fraudulently represented Global One as a licensed securities broker, and claimed to possess a software program ("Global Trac") that could automatically execute winning trades over 95 percent of the time.
Investors who paid the $500 annual membership fee gained access to Global One’s website, training "webinars," and conference calls. Members were also offered the chance to participate in a "profit-sharing" plan that would enable them to reap a share of the profits earned by Global One’s FOREX trades. Participation required monetary contributions in thousand-dollar increments.
Young instructed investors to place their money in FOREX broker accounts, which were recommended by Global One, and promised trades would be executed automatically with Global Trac.According to evidence presented at Young’s trial, Global Trac never existed.
Young and his cohorts executed the trades themselves, and then misled investors about the staggeringly high losses they suffered. Young paid "profits" to investors with money contributed by other investors. He also took millions of dollars of investor funds for himself.
"Young molded and perfected a sophisticated and wide-ranging fraud perpetrated over a three-year period where he controlled all the money, manipulated information, drained the savings of victims, captivated and brainwashed others through repeated lies and false promises spewed over and over again through the Internet, defamed and denigrated those who dared challenge him and enriched himself in the process without a care for those who suffered enormous loss," Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre wrote in a sentencing brief (as quoted in a Dec. 13 Associated Press article.)
A federal jury convicted Young of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, and one count of securities fraud on March 30, 2011.
Willard pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in Feb. 2011, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison last week.
Young’s 25-year sentence is one of the most significant sentences handed down for white-collar crime in the history of Nevada. Prosecutors claimed they asked for a long sentence in part because Young used investors’ religious beliefs to lure them into the investment scheme. Judge Hicks, astounded by the "aggravated" nature of the crime and the significant losses of the victims, denied the defense’s request to allow Young to serve his sentence in such a way as to reduce his total incarceration time.