COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Federal prosecutors say a man from Jackson, Ohio has agreed to plead guilty to a $50 million Ponzi scheme.
According to court documents, starting in January of 2012 and lasting until March of 2018, Jason E. Adkins, 40, operated various Ohio and Delaware-based commercial tire companies, which allegedly specialized in buying and selling off-the-road tires commonly used on large earth-moving and mining equipment.
Court documents state that Adkins would tell investors that he was buying specially sourced OTR tires at a steep discount and then sell them at a much higher rate, yielding at large profit on investment.
Adkins would allegedly use multiple methods to convince investors of his business, including flamboyant travel using a private plane to showcase tire inventory, and a fraudulent lifestyle.
Adkins bought cars, vacations and property with the funds from the scheme. For example, he paid for the construction of a pool at his personal residence and also paid more than $20,000 to lease a private jet.
Investors were promised a 15 to 20 percent rate of return on investment, generally within 180 days. Adkins would sometimes pay the return on investment for the first transaction with investor victims.
“Making good on early investments perpetuated Adkins’s scheme by appearing to corroborate his claims, which helped him attract more investors,” said U.S. Attorney Glassman. “What the victims didn’t know was that Adkins was paying off early investments with the money from later ones. Although the product that Jason Adkins was purporting to buy and sell—oversize tires—was unusual, the operation of his scheme was not. It was right out of Ponzi’s playbook.”
For example, although two specific investors were paid for their initial investment of $20,000 with Adkins in 2016, they only received $320,000 total from Adkins in return for approximately $1 million worth of investments overall.
“A person who creates a web of financial lies will soon be caught up in it. Mr. Adkins offered rates of return of 15 to 20 percent to investors and unfortunately these were false promises,” said William Cheung, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS, Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “No matter the source of income, everyone has an obligation to the American public to pay their fair share of income taxes. The success of this investigation was a direct result of the excellent partnership amongst IRS Criminal Investigation, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
Adkins has agreed to plead guilty to three counts of wire fraud and six counts related to money laundering – all crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison – and one count of tax evasion, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.