A Liberian national named Cassell Anthony Kuoh – alias Tim Borrol – was sentenced to more than seven years in prison this week in connection with a multimillion-dollar investment scheme involving gold and diamonds.
Kouh, who has a home in Harrisburg, was found guilty of defrauding victims of more than $9.5 million, said Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Federal officials say more than eight investors were taken in by the scheme, including some living outside the U.S.
His sentence includes an order to pay $16.2 million as restitution, and he is subject to deportation after his 87-month sentence ends, officials said.
Rose called Kuoh “extremely sophisticated fraudster” who used Liberian government connections to help pull off the fraud.
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“Many of his victims, who are located in our district and throughout the world, will never recover from the devastating financial losses wrought by Kuoh’s fraudulent scheme. On behalf of those victims, we are delighted that Mr. Kuoh will be serving a significant sentence in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.”
Evidence showed Kuoh orchestrated a scheme from June 2012 to December 2016 involving the purchase, shipment and export of unrefined gold and rough diamonds allegedly located in Liberia.
Kuoh lived in Liberia and owned Phoenix Mining and Investment Group, which purported to be in the precious metal and gemstone business, officials said.
He convinced victims to invest with Phoenix Mining by promising, among other things, that their money would be used to purchase, ship, and transfer gold and diamonds from Liberia into the United States. Kuoh created a website for a fake shipping company, McDan Shipping Company, Ltd., and even provided victims with false tracking information showing that the packages were on their way to the U.S.
Kuoh also invited victims to Africa to visit the mining operations, which had been set up to look legitimate and profitable. In at least one instance, he set up armed personnel to deliver large quantities of gold bars for inspection, which convinced multiple victims that Kuoh owned that gold.
But that gold had been borrowed, officials said.
Prosecutors say Kuoh used the investors’ money to fund his lifestyle, including the purchase a house in Harrisburg outside of Charlotte.
On March 8,Kuoh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
He is in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. Kuoh’s co-defendant, Emmanuel Tarr, 30, of Liberia, has also pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.
The investigation was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigaitons. Assistant United States Attorney Corey Ellis, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.