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He promised his victims he would finance movies. Instead, he bought luxury cars, homes and designer clothes.

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 2 days ago Angie DiMichele, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

A 39-year-old Miami man who pretended to be a film producer was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison after stealing over $60 million he promised would be used to finance movies and Broadway shows, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Benjamin Forrest McConley, with the help of two others, led the scheme where he offered to finance films and theater show productions. McConley told his victims that he would “match” the money they gave and use the total to secure financing for the film and theater projects, court records say.

McConley recruited Benjamin Rafael, a Wells Fargo employee, to deceive victims into believing their money was in legitimate hands and that their contributions had been matched, often sending emails to victims from his Wells Fargo email, according to court records.

Jason Van Eman is accused of telling the victims to transfer money to Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and UBS Bank accounts that victims were unaware belonged to McConley, himself and Rafael, court records show.

But the millions of dollars were never matched and were transferred to McConley’s personal and corporate bank accounts within days of his receiving the money. He bought luxury cars, watercraft, real estate, stocks, jewelry, furniture and designer clothes, hotel stays and private and commercial flights instead, prosecutors said.

McConley previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the scheme. He has been ordered to pay restitution to victims, forfeit properties he purchased with their money and serve a term of supervised release of three years, prosecutors said. He was ordered to forfeit the $69 million he stole from victims.

Rafael previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 3-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the scheme in addition to his involvement in fraudulently obtaining Paycheck Protection Program loans, prosecutors said.

Van Eman’s trial is set for March.

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