A former Elk Grove resident pleaded guilty Thursday in Sacramento federal court to wire and bankruptcy fraud in connection with a multimillion-dollar rip-off of fellow Fiji islanders.
According to court papers, Vincent Thakur Singh, a native of Fiji, filed for bankruptcy protection after targeting 190 people of ethnic Indian Fijian descent in an investment fraud that grossed approximately $20 million.
Singh, operating through an entity he created called Perfect Financial Group Inc., told victims he was a “hard money lender,” that their investments would be used to make safe loans, and that they would recover the principal, plus as much as a 30 percent return in a matter of months, a grand jury indictment alleges.
In fact, court papers say, Singh used $12 million of investors’ funds for gambling, made currency withdrawals totaling $2 million, spent $880,000 on a failed film project in New Zealand and spent more than $1 million on other ventures, all contrary to the promises he made to those who trusted him with their money.
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In classic Ponzi fashion, Singh also used millions of dollars of the victims’ money to make payments to earlier investors, purporting that the payments represented returns on his lending enterprises. The exercise gave Perfect Financial a false veneer of success.
According to a written plea bargain between Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Segal and Singh and his lawyer, Singh made a bankruptcy filing on Aug. 19, 2010, yet failed to disclose 19 of the bank accounts he had used in the investment fraud scheme.
Singh, 45, will remain in custody pending his sentencing, scheduled for June 12. He has been locked up since Oct. 15, 2012, when he was arrested in Caldwell, Idaho.