SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Four people – two each from Utah and California – have been sentenced for their role in an $8 million telemarketing fraud scheme that promised victims that their business could extract gold from dirt.
Since 2014, about 140 investors – the majority over the age of 65 – paid over $8 million to Jersey Consulting, LLC, which was said to own an 80 acre mining claim with a substantial amount of mineral rich ore. Investors were told they would receive 100% returns on their money in a year.
What investors did not know is that two of the men that formed Jersey – 55-year-old Marc Tager of Sandy and 69-year-old Jonathon Shoucair of North Hills, California – met while serving multi-year federal prison sentences together for previous fraud-related convictions, court officials say.
Tager, convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in 2005, met Shoucair, who was serving a prison sentence in the Sheridan Federal Correction Institution for running a $50 million telemarketing fraud.
Tager, Shoucair, and 51-year-old Matthew Mangum of South Jordan, came together to form Jersey Consulting and created a marketing website for the business.
The website claimed the company not only owned a large mining claim, but that their “revolutionary mining technology could achieve 20 times the yield of traditional mining at a fraction of the cost,” court officials explain. The trio also claimed that their process was environmentally friendly. They told investors Mangum had developed the ‘revolutionary’ process and was presented as “an expert in metallurgy and the refining of precious metals.”
Investors were told their money would be secured by the physical assets Jersey owned and, should the business fail, investors would have priority over these assets. They were also told their money was needed to pay for the space, equipment, materials, and labor.
The Department of Justice District of Utah says that since 2014, the men raised over $8 million through the telemarketing strategy for Jersey, which was never profitable.
Of that money, $3 million was spent for the personal benefit of Tager, Mangum, and Shoucair. Another $2 million paid telemarketers, including 75-year-old Kenneth Gross of Porter Ranch, California, who helped raise the funds. Gross reportedly cold-called potential investors and would pass on interested individuals to Tager and Shoucair in order to obtain funds from these investors.
Investigators estimate just $3 million of investors’ funds were used for potentially legitimate business expenses incurred by Jersey.
Tager, Shoucair, Mangum, and Gross have all been sentenced in federal court:
Tager was sentenced on April 14 to 43 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, money laundering, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Shoucair was sentenced in October 2020 to 72 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and money laundering.
Mangum was sentenced in November 2020 to 48 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
Gross was sentenced in January 2020 to 24 months of probation for failing to disclose to federal authorities that he had knowledge that securities fraud was occurring.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob J. Strain, Trina Higgins, and Allison Moon in the Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case. Investigators from the Utah Department of Commerce Division of Securities and Special Agents from the FBI and the IRS conducted the investigation.