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Former Princeton resident Ford Graham indicted for multi-million dollar fraud schemes

Princeton University alumnus Ford Graham. File photo.

A former Princeton resident was charged Thursday with engaging in multiple fraudulent schemes intended to steal millions of dollars from individual and institutional victims.

Ford Graham, 60, is charged in a 29-count indictment with 14 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, nine counts of money laundering, and one count of engaging in unlawful money transactions.

“As alleged in the indictment, this defendant used multiple schemes to steal millions of dollars from victims,” U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said Thursday. “The indictment sets forth the different strategies the defendant allegedly employed to dupe innocent third parties into giving the defendant their hard-earned money. My office will continue to devote substantial resources to investigating and prosecuting fraudsters who take advantage of the financial system for illicit financial gain.”

Graham graduated from Princeton University in 1986 and owned a home on Prospect Avenue. He and his wife were arrested in 2019 and remanded to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons until they complied with prior court orders stemming from a 2014 federal case. They moved to Nellysford, Virginia to live with his wife’s mother in 2021. 

More than one Princeton area resident allegedly was a victim of Graham’s Ponzi schemes.

“We allege Graham used a litany of fraud schemes to steal money from his investors,” FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “Our thorough investigation illustrates how he moved from one to the next, using millions of dollars to fund his lavish life but not his promised investments. The victims in this case, and thousands of others across the country, are losing incredible amounts of money to fraudsters who only see them as personal piggy banks. FBI Newark and our law enforcement partners tackle the mountain of evidence all with the sole purpose of bringing these criminals to justice.”

Details from the criminal complaint and court statements

From December 2012 to September 2013, Graham identified himself as the owner, chief executive, chairman, manager, or principal member of dozens of corporate entities purporting to do business under an umbrella organization, Vulcan Capital Corporation. Acting through and on behalf of Vulcan and its associated entities, Graham claimed he was a highly successful financier who had vast experience sponsoring complex energy and natural resource projects and other investment deals, according to federal law enforcement officials.

In connection with one such investment that Graham and a Vulcan entity allegedly sponsored, one victim invested more than $2 million with Graham, relying on Graham’s misrepresentations and omissions regarding the investment. An investigation revealed that Graham misappropriated substantial amounts of the victim’s investment money and used it for his own personal benefit and enrichment – including, among other things, international vacations, private school tuition for his children, and other personal amenities – instead of the investment purpose that Graham had marketed. Through this and other fraudulent misrepresentations uncovered during the investigation, Graham allegedly caused multiple victims to lose a total of more than $2.6 million.

Graham also allegedly actively participated in a scheme to defraud merchant processing institutions through fraudulent credit card transactions, according to federal law enforcement officials.

From December 2017 to February 2018, Graham allegedly used at least one payment processing platform to process fraudulent charges on stolen credit card numbers that he obtained, according to federal law enforcement officials. After the payment processing platform credited Graham’s account with the payments requested, Graham allegedly quickly transferred or caused to be transferred the fraudulently obtained money to other accounts before the victim institutions could act. When requested by the victim payment processing company to provide supporting documentation, Graham allegedly submitted false documentation, including fabricated invoices and credit card authorization forms, fabricated e-mails, forged signatures, altered bank statements, and other false and fraudulent information. This scheme resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of losses and the misappropriation of multiple victims’ personal identification information.

From February 2017 to June 2018, Graham allegedly conspired with others to defraud victim institutions and individuals of millions of dollars through a business email compromise scheme. Members of the conspiracy allegedly sent fraudulent e-mail communications to victims who were scheduled to make substantial outgoing wire transfers to third parties. These fraudulent e-mails created the appearance that they had been sent by the intended third-party recipients of the scheduled payments when, in fact, they were sent by members of the conspiracy.

The fraudulent emails allegedly requested the victims to reroute the scheduled payments to different bank accounts that Graham and his conspirators controlled. In one instance, a fraudulent email successfully induced one victim to reroute a payment of more than $650,000 to a bank account that Graham controlled. Graham allegedly transferred or caused to be transferred substantial portions of those funds to other accounts that he controlled, and which he used and intended to use for his own personal benefit. Through the business email compromise scheme, Graham and his conspirators allegedly attempted to defraud multiple victims of at least $6 million.

The wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross amount of gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. The securities fraud charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Each count of aggravated identity theft is punishable by a statutory mandatory consecutive sentence of two years, which must run consecutively to any other sentence. Each count of money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine of $500,000 or not more than twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. The charge of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense or not more than twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transactions.

“Today’s indictment of the defendant sends a clear message, that we have the tools and internal fortitude to protect our financial systems by investigating, prosecuting, and holding accountable, those who seek to defraud the public,” said Tammy Tomlins, Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation Newark Field Office. “IRS – Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners are committed to safeguarding the public.”

2 Comments

  1. May he spend the rest of his life in jail. And may the same happen to any other fraudster in our mist.

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