23-Year-Old Funds Lavish Lifestyle Through Fraud
LUBBOCK, Texas (NEWS RELEASE) - When 23-year-old J. Nicholas Bryant realized couldn’t afford the lavish lifestyle he wanted – complete with luxury limo rides, fully-stocked charter flights, and a private outing on a 90-foot yacht – he turned to fraud, he admitted in court today, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Mr. Bryant, now 26, pleaded guilty to wire fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant, Jr. on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.
“Like many of his peers, Nicholas Bryant apparently coveted the life of the rich and famous. Unlike his peers, he wasn’t about to let a lack of funds get in the way of his fantasy. Without the interference of our law enforcement partners, this defendant would be well on his way to becoming Lubbock’s Anna Delvey or Frank Abagnale,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham.
According to plea papers, Mr. Bryant admitted that from 2020 through 2021, he defrauded at least 50 unsuspecting victims by booking luxury goods and services and then manipulating online payment platforms like QuickBooks and Veem to make it appear that payments were forthcoming. On at least one occasion, he convinced a victim company that his “secretary” – a woman who did not exist – would make payments on his behalf. Knowing that the software would generate payment confirmations immediately, but would take several days to notify victims of canceled payments, Mr. Bryant satisfied vendors and business owners that payments were forthcoming when due.
In this manner, he obtained more than a dozen private jet flights, a half-day sail on a 90-foot yacht, numerous high-end hotel rooms, extravagant steak and champagne dinners, and five luxury vehicles worth more than $500,000. He also racked up a bill for substantial materials and labor on a $980,000 home and pool.
To lend an air of legitimacy to his schemes, Mr. Bryant convinced victims that his parents were wealthy oil and gas investors and that he himself was employed by a number of fictitious companies. He assumed the identities of fictitious persons, communicated with victims under assumed names, and even created sham websites to further his scheme. In at least one instance, he convinced the owner of an oil and gas company, who had previously worked with and trusted him, to front roughly $150,000 to open a fictitious oil well.
Mr. Bryant now faces up to 20 years in federal prison. His sentencing has not yet been set.
The U.S. Secret Service’s Lubbock Resident Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigations Division, the Lubbock Police Department, the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, the Brownwood Police Department, Texas Parks & Wildlife of Coleman County, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana, and the Cody Police Department in Wyoming conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Howey is prosecuting the case.
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