‘In God We Trust’ Scammer Who Fleeced Investors Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison; Byron Keith Brown Traded On God’s Name And U.S. Motto To Steal Millions From Clients Of Unlicensed Investment Business

An affinity fraudster and financial scammer has received a 15-year prison sentence in the “In God We Trust” caper, an online Ponzi scheme that traded on religion and patriotic sentiments while gathering more than $17 million.

Byron Keith Brown, 34, of Vienna, Va., also was ordered by U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson of the District of Maryland to make restitution of more than $9.8 million to investors.

Prosecutors said Brown bought at least 16 high-end cars with investors’ money. Nameplates included Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini, among others. Brown was not licensed as a broker, dealer or investment adviser in Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia, the areas in which his scheme was concentrated.

“Byron Brown used the internet to make it appear as if he were running an investment management business for wealthy investors, when in fact he was stealing millions of dollars from investors and using it to buy a fleet of luxury cars,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland.

The IRS brought the case.

Brown, prosecutors said, filed bankruptcy in 1999 — but soon emerged with a tale of fabulous success that painted him as the head of an international firm that specialized in catering to wealthy investors from offices in Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Del., New York, and London, England.

It was all an illusion, prosecutors said.

The words “IN GOD WE TRUST” became the official U.S. motto by an Act of Congress in 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower was President. The words officially were added to U.S. paper currency, beginning in 1957.

Brown operated at least three companies that used the “In God We Trust” theme, prosecutors said. Experts say scammers frequently use appeals to faith and patriotism to steal from investors or line them up to be fleeced in fraud schemes.

See earlier story.

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