During tough economic times individuals and businesses take chances that they would otherwise not consider if things were better. Small businesses are a specially hit hard when the economy is not doing so well because usually it is the only source of income for the owners of the establishment. In times like these, small businesses start looking for alternative sources of funding. Professional white-collar criminals know this, and establish fake businesses pretending to provide access to grants and other types of funding from public and private entities.
Three Vegas residents Gregory Villegas, Christine M. Gagnon, and Mickey Gines, established several companies to carry out a telemarketing scheme which began in 2008 and continued through May 2, 2012. According to Nevada US attorney Daniel Bogden, almost 400 people around the country were cheated out $5.2 million of their hard earned money. The trio was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, and 31 counts of wire fraud. If they are convicted, they can be sentenced to 30 years in prison and face fines of $250,000 per count. The FBI and the US Secret Service investigated the case, and it will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina M. Brown.
Villegas was listed as owner of the businesses, which include Executive Solutions Inc.: Business Funding Services Enterprises, Global Business Funding Inc., The Grant People, USA Grant Team, USA Grants, National Financial Advisors, U.S. Filing Services Inc., U.S. Filings Service Inc., USFS Inc., Echoe Inc., Worldwide Asset Management, Corporate Capital Team, Business Acumen, and Kuff Ltd.
The businesses hired sales personnel and used high-pressure sales and lulling tactics to collect millions of dollars in fees through their website and staff for obtaining grants from the government.
According to an excerpt from the US Small Business Administration website, "Government grants are funded by your tax dollars and, therefore, require very stringent compliance and reporting measures to ensure the money is well spent. As you can imagine, grants are not given away indiscriminately."
This statement clarifies the government's position on issuing grants to small businesses, so if you own your own small business, seek out local resource designated by the federal government to issue the grants.
Edited by Blaise McNamee