Houston area man arrested for $1.2M nationwide telemarketing scheme

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Friday, May 6, 2022
New warning about rise in home-buying scams
Rebecca Jarvis reports on the increase of real estate wire fraud and how homebuyers can protect themselves.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 46-year-old Houston man has been arrested for participating in a telemarketing scheme that scammed over 100 victims, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

The video above is from a previous report.

From January 2015 to August 2019, Michael K. Laurendeau and others allegedly received over $1.2 million in fraudulently collected funds. The indictment alleges the money was then spent on trips, dinners, a car, and other goods.

On Friday morning, Laurendeau was taken into custody and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and 14 counts of mail fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine on each count.

SEE ALSO: FBI arrests at least 9 Houstonians in business email compromise scheme operation

Laurendeau and co-conspirators allegedly deceived over 134 victims, many of whom were over the age of 55, by convincing them they were entitled to unclaimed money from prior investments in websites or webpage domains. They allegedly used aliases such as Richard Phelps, Ian Sharpe, Kelly Fisher and Mary Benson to victimize people who lived all over the country.

The scammers told victims they had to pay fees or taxes via certified checks or money orders to Laurendeau's businesses, E-Business Financial LLC and Blue Star Hosting LLC, to receive their money, according to the allegations.

The indictment further alleges none of the victims ever received any funds from this scheme. Additionally, Laurendeau convinced many of the victims to send in additional checks after the victims did not receive any return on their first payments, according to the charges.

The Pearland Police Department and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Wakefield is prosecuting the case.

SEE ALSO: Scammers pose as realtors, trick homebuyers into wiring money in rising real estate scheme