DA Vance: U.S. Citizen Indicted for International Securities Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme


August 11, 2015

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of THEODORE ANDREW WERNER, 48, for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from victims of an international securities fraud and money laundering scheme. The defendant is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees, Money Laundering in the Second and Third Degrees, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.[1]

“A single tip from a victim was enough for my Office to uncover and expose an elaborate scheme to defraud unsuspecting investors and launder tens of thousands of dollars in stolen money,” said District Attorney Vance. “Using technology that enabled him to obscure his identity, as well as his location in Asia, the defendant was allegedly able to steal from multiple victims worldwide through various pretenses, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation. I thank our partners in law enforcement for their assistance in apprehending the defendant, and I encourage members of the public to be wary of unsolicited requests for money and other funds.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, beginning in 2014, WERNER, a U.S. citizen living abroad and operating mainly out of Bangkok, Thailand, contacted victims by phone and email while posing as a securities broker and using other false identities. Based on fraudulent representations and pretenses, the defendant convinced his victims, who were mainly from New Zealand and Australia, to send their money to foreign banks, including several based in the U.S. In some cases, victims were falsely led to believe that they were investing money in non-public securities shortly before a public offering. In other cases, victims were deceived into believing that they owned highly valuable, desirable stocks, and by paying fees to lift restrictions and exercising options related to the stocks, they would stand to gain significant returns. After victims sent initial amounts of money, however, WERNER and other co-conspirators posed as U.S. regulators and claimed that victims were required to pay U.S. withholding taxes before they could receive their returns.

In both cases, victims received falsified documents purporting to be sent from legitimate securities brokers or U.S. regulators, including real and existing regulators such as the Internal Revenue Service, as well as fictitious regulators such as the “Board of Securities Trading Commission” and the “Eastern Security Trading Commission.”  

There is no indication that any of the money sent by victims to WERNER was used as represented, and instead, the stolen money was withdrawn from the U.S. bank accounts by unindicted co-conspirators with access to the accounts, or by WERNER and others after the money was wired to their personal bank accounts in Asia and elsewhere. 

In many cases, the defendant attempted to perpetuate the fraud by contacting victims again while posing as an attorney at a Hong Kong-based firm and offering to helps victims recover the lost money. Once again, victims were emailed falsified documents appearing to be sent by a legitimate law firm based in Asia. 

The investigation is ongoing. 

Assistant District Attorney Cory E. Jacobs is handling the prosecution of the case, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Marc Frazier Scholl, Senior Investigative Counsel and Counsel to the Investigation Division, and under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Conroy, Principal Deputy Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Polly Greenberg, Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Senior Rackets Investigator Matthew Winters, Senior Rackets Investigator Andrew Lee, Supervising Rackets Investigator Gregory Dunlavey, and Deputy Chief Investigator Santiago Batista, under the supervision of Assistant Chief Investigator Michael Wigdor and Chief Investigator Walter Alexander; Financial Analyst Wei Man Tang, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Irene Serrapica and Chief Robert Demarest, of the Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Bureau; former Investigative Analysts Adam Wenick and C. Frank Mace; and Paralegal Kate Fisch provided additional assistance with the investigation.

District Attorney Vance also thanked the following for their assistance with the investigation: Special Agent John M. Kirk and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; Brian M. Pearce of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs; Edward Y. Ng, Attaché-IRS Criminal Investigation Division U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong; U.S. Department of State Regional Security Officer Thomas R. VanDenBrink and the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand; Maj. General and Deputy Chief Charn Wimolsri and the Royal Thai Police Central Investigation Bureau; Senior Investigator Wendy Riach, of the Christchurch, New Zealand Police Department; Special Agent David M. Roberts and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Marshal Service; the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:

THEODORE ANDREW WERNER, D.O.B. 7/1/1967
Clark County, NV

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 7 counts
  • Money Laundering in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Money Laundering in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

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