A former Las Vegas resident who defrauded 17 people of almost $1.5 million in an investment fraud scheme will spend more than eight years in prison.
Aneal Maharaj, 65, pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion charges and was sentenced on Wednesday.
"Mr. Maharaj repeatedly solicited victims through fraud and deception knowing that they would never receive the monetary rewards he pitched," said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. "Although he tried to avoid facing the reality of a conviction by fleeing to Fiji and causing the United States to extradite him, he was eventually brought to justice and will spend much of the next decade behind bars."
From 1990 until 2004, Maharaj operated a multi-level marketing program in Las Vegas. He promised homeowners that they could pay off 30-year mortgages in five years or less by becoming franchise owners in a business called PowerNet Marketing System.
Maharaj knew the homeowners would never pay off their mortgages in such a short time. Maharaj's victims were also encouraged to recruit friends and family into the program with the promise of commissions and income. It was a promise he never delivered on.
Maharaj was charged in 2005 with mail and wire fraud. In 2008, he was additionally charged with money laundering, tax evasion and structuring cash transactions.
Maharaj fled to Fiji. He was extradited back to Las Vegas in 2011.
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