Texas Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Fake Investment Fraud Scheme | USAO-DC
WASHINGTON – Sean T. Johnson, also known as Shawn Johnson, 42, of Dallas, Texas, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for carrying out a six-year fraud scheme in which he tricked victims into investing with him in ventures that did not exist, and lied to victims about his professional background, his contacts with celebrities, and his personal net worth, in order to induce them to invest in the scheme.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division.
Johnson pleaded guilty in November 2019 to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced on May 26, 2022, by the Honorable Richard J. Leon. Following his prison term, Johnson will be placed on four years of supervised release. The judge also ordered Johnson to pay restitution to the victims but will decide the precise amount of restitution at a later date.
From September 2012 through October 2018, Johnson conned numerous unsuspecting victims out of money by posing as a wealthy investor and businessman. While Johnson varied his approach based upon the personality, gender, and lifestyle of the victim, the scam almost always began with the defendant flashing money near the victim, name-dropping celebrity friends who were investors in his ventures, talking up his business acumen, and offering to “help” his friends become wealthy, like him.
To entice victims, Johnson wore expensive designer clothes, talked constantly about his wealth, and bragged about owning expensive houses and condominiums. To add legitimacy to his scheme, he created “promissory notes” to document victims’ investments. The promissory notes detailed how much the person invested and when and how much money Johnson promised to return to them. With almost every victim, Johnson claimed to have an assistant whose identity he appropriated from a former co-worker, and he used fake accounts in this fake assistant’s name to communicate with his victims and lend credibility to his fake business ventures. In total, Johnson swindled his victims from all over the country out of over $1 million. He spent these illegal proceeds on lavish personal expenditures, such as luxury vehicles, designer clothing, alcoholic beverages at nightclubs, tickets to sporting events, and gambling at casinos.
More than a dozen victims submitted victim impact statements to the court in which they described the devastating emotional and financial consequences of the defendant’s misconduct. Most victims lost the entirety of their savings, ruined their credit, and/or were forced into foreclosure or bankruptcy as a result of the scheme.
Johnson was arrested in October 2018. He has been in custody since.
In announcing the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Graves and Special Agent in Charge Jacobs commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the assistance of the victims who came forward to report the defendant’s fraud scheme. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Amanda Rohde and Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant.
Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy and former Assistant U.S. Attorney David Misler, who prosecuted the matter.