We would like to welcome former NBA and NCAA star Jay Vincent to Consumer Ally. When it comes to the sordid world of scams, it isn't often that we get to write about a celebrity athlete -- not as the victim but as the accused.
Making millions in pro sports was apparently not enough for the one-time NBA player who averaged 15 points a game over a nine-year career that ended in 2001.
Vincent was indicted by a federal grand jury in Michigan on charges of mail fraud and income tax violation amid allegations that he and a partner ran an employment scam out of Lansing, Mich. -- where he starred as a college player for Michigan State. He now stands accused of ripping off 20,000 people who were hoping to get jobs. The scam goes back to at least 2006, according to the indictment.
The scam wasn't as lucrative as, say, playing basketball, but the U.S. Attorney's Office in Grand Rapids, Mich., said Vincent and his alleged partner Anthony Leroy Portee collected about $2 million from people who thought they were going to get a job working for the "Foreclosure Bank Inspection Company."'
Nice. If the allegations are true, he not only took advantage of folks who need work, but did so under the pretense that they would be getting a job in a field that would profit from other folks down on their luck.
According to the indictment, applicants were allegedly told they would have guaranteed income and then were asked to pay $89 for a non-existent criminal background check and $149 for non-existent liability insurance. Vincent's company claimed they had contracts with major banks to inspect foreclosed homes and that the banks were paying for these contract inspectors. That also wasn't the case, according to the indictment.
Consumer Ally warns about this sort of scam all the time. Job scams made our top 10 list of scams to watch out for this year. The game is always the same. Folks are led to believe they are on the path to getting a job and then are asked to pay money up front -- typically for some sort of background check.
Vincent's operation allegedly solicited people in not only the Lansing area but nationwide through newspaper ads, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
If convicted, Vincent could face up to 20 years in prison on each of four counts of mail fraud and three years for filing a false tax return. The indictment said he claimed business income of about $62,000 for 2008, but really took in more than $330,000.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is trying to contact victims of this scam. If you think you were a victim, but have not been contacted, call the postal inspectors at 1-866-311-0971.
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