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3 accused of running $364M investment fraud scheme including victims in Md., DC, Va.

Pictures of cars and houses purchased with money prosecutors say was acquired through an investment fraud scheme are seen at a press conference at the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore on Wednesday. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — Three men have been indicted in an investment fraud scheme that took more than $364 million from hundreds of victims, largely in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.

Prosecutors in Baltimore said Kevin Merrill, 53, of Maryland, along with Jay Ledford, 54, of Texas and Nevada, and Cameron Jezierski, 28, of Texas, were indicted by a Maryland grand jury and charged with wire fraud, identity theft, money laundering, conspiracy and financial transactions of over $10,000 in criminally derived property in a scheme that started in 2015 and was ongoing.

The defendants created a “web of lies” to deceive investors by creating promises of a fraudulent investment opportunity that was “too good to be true,” prosecutors said in a press conference at the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the defendants bought bundles of debt and sold them to investors, falsifying bank and wire transfer records and bank statements to get victims to buy into the scheme.

The defendants then bought dozens of high-end cars, including Bugattis and Porsches, several millions of dollars in real estate and homes, lavish jewelry and more, prosecutors say.

On Wednesday, prosecutors said that they know of around 400 victims but that there could be more. Prosecutors say the victims include retirees, small business owners, doctors, accountants, financial advisers and professional athletes. If you think you could be a victim, contact the FBI by sending an email to MerrillLedford@fbi.gov or by filling out an online questionnaire.

If the three are convicted, the assets will be turned over to the U.S. government and efforts made to reimburse people who lost money.

Merrill is detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday; Ledford’s detention hearing was on Tuesday; he’s currently being held. Jezierski was released under the condition that he report to Baltimore no later than Sept. 24.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. 


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