A federal jury has found a Hoschton woman guilty in an advance fee investment scheme that resulted in more than three dozen victims losing an estimated $3.7 million.
Katherine Twigg, 48, was convicted on Friday on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and three counts of wire fraud. Her trial lasted for four days and it took the jury five hours to reach its decision.
A co-defendant in the case, Anthony Tobin, 52, of Atlanta, previously pled guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud. He testified against Twigg at her trial, but his sentencing date hasn’t been set yet.
Tobin had admitted to organizing the conspiracy, according to federal prosecutors.
Twigg was indicted in March 2009 as a co-conspirator in an advance fee fraud scheme that was operated between January 2004 and June 2008.
Twigg combed the internet for business owners and entrepreneurs who were seeking funding for their business projects, according to testimony at the trial and Acting U.S. Attorney Sally Q. Yates.
She then sent them letters, inviting them to Atlanta to meet with her co-conspirators to discuss their potential projects and how they could best obtain funding for their business ideas.
After identifying and luring potential victims into the scheme, Twigg and her co-conspirators said that they had access to investment funds and venture capital through Tobin’s companies’ consortium of private investors.
Victims were told they should come to Atlanta for purpose of presenting their business proposals to receive funding from the consortium. As a precondition to this funding, the victims were required to pay non-refundable advance expenses and fees.
Twigg also served as a reference, purporting to be the owner of “Atlanta Health and Fitness” which she claimed had already successfully obtained $2 million in such funding.
At trial, one specific victim, identified as “G.W.,” testified that she directly spoke to Twigg and believed Twigg’s story of obtaining $2 million, and that Twigg’s reference and recommendation were the prime reasons why “G.W.” sent over $24,000 to the co-conspirators in hopes of growing her business.
In fact, “G.W.” did not receive any investor or venture capital funding, according to prosecutors. Testimony at trial showed no victim received any such funding. Instead, the evidence showed that the incoming monies from the victims went to Twigg and her co-conspirators for their personal enrichment.
A third co-defendant in the case, Eyal Dulin, 40, of Snellville, remains a fugitive, possibly in South Africa. Anyone with information on Dulin is asked to call the United States Secret Service or the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Sentencing for Twigg has been set for Feb. 17, 2010, at 10:30 a.m., before United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count and a fine of up to $1 million on each count.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the United States Secret Service, Postal Inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the (Georgia) Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs.
Assistant United States Attorneys Bernita Malloy and Robert McBurney prosecuted the case.