Troy Business Owner, Viktor Gjonaj Charged with Wire Fraud
(STL.News) A Troy based commercial real estate broker and investor was charged today with devising and executing a scheme to obtain money by means of false material promises and representations from victim-investors, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy T. Waters, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Viktor Gjonaj, age 43, was charged in an Information with one count of wire fraud and the case has been assigned to the Honorable Linda V. Parker, United States District Judge.
According to the criminal Information, in June 2016, Gjonaj believed he had discovered a guaranteed way to win huge jackpots in the Michigan Lottery Dailey 3 and 4 games. To accomplish this he had to substantially increase the times he played and amounts he spent. In 2017, Gjonaj began losing more money than he won and more money than he could afford to lose. Rather than ending his gambling, Gjonaj devised a scheme to trick individuals into giving him money by falsely promising them he would invest it in lucrative real estate deals. In order to make the deals look legitimate, Gjonaj created a fake title company and instructed the victim-investors to wire transfer money into the bank account of the fake company. Gjonaj described the fraudulent real estate deals in great detail and encouraged victim-investors to continue giving him money by disbursing payments to them which he falsely claimed were profits on their “investment.” By early 2019, Gjonaj was betting over $1 million a week on Michigan Lottery games using money fraudulently obtained from victims. In August 2019, Gjonaj’s scheme to defraud unraveled resulting in over $19 million in losses to victims.
“This case shows us that criminals may use sophisticated methods and apparently legitimate businesses, but their crimes amount to nothing more than stealing other people’s money. The defendant’s gambling harmed not just himself, but many other innocent victims as well,” stated United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.
“Viktor Gjonaj repeatedly lied about the nature of his business, inducing investors to turn over money that he then squandered by playing the lottery,” said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “The defendant’s lies have caught up with him and he will now face the consequences of his fraudulent scheme.”
An Information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and the burden is on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s cooperation in this investigation is appreciated.