SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A former Southern California man was charged Wednesday with running a “boiler room" scheme that bilked more than 100 investors out of $14 million.
Ronald Shane Flynn, who once lived in Orange County, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 15 counts of wire fraud, the county district attorney's office said in a statement.
Flynn, 57, is believed to have left the United States more than a decade ago, according to the District Attorney's office, which declined to comment on where he might be living.
Flynn ran Vuuzle Media Corp., which claimed to be a streaming media and entertainment business with offices in New York, Las Vegas and worldwide.
Prosecutors alleged that beginning in September 2016, the company offered what it claimed was an opportunity to invest in the business before its initial public stock offering, prosecutors said.
Although he was barred from offering securities in California and also in Ohio, Flynn ran the scheme while operating from the Philippines, Dubai and elsewhere, according to the indictment.
Flynn fielded a “boiler room" of salespeople, mainly based in the Philippines, that used high-pressure tactics to solicit about $14 million from investors, according to the indictment and a January lawsuit filed in New Jersey by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to the indictment, Vuuzle never made a profit, Flynn never paid dividends to investors, and he never intended to take the business public.
Only a small percentage of the funds actually went toward the streaming business, authorities said.
Instead, according to the SEC lawsuit, about $5.5 million was used to pay commissions and expenses for the recruitment effort while Flynn used nearly $5 million to finance a luxury lifestyle that included buying jewelry and paying for resort stays and nightclub visits.
If convicted of the criminal charges, Flynn could face a sentence of up to 300 years in federal prison.