Hilo man pleads not guilty to 39 counts of wire fraud - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hilo man pleads not guilty to 39 counts of wire fraud

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Justin Wade Smith Justin Wade Smith
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A Hilo man pleaded not guilty today to 39 counts of wire fraud in Federal Court.

32-year old Justin Wade Smith was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday and was arrested in Hilo on Thursday. 

FBI officials say that Smith misrepresented himself as an heir to a trust fund or as federal law enforcement to gain more than $1 million. Over 30 people have come forward as alleged victims but the FBI says it will be difficult to find if there are more victims because many of the transactions were done in cash.

"These types of advanced fee frauds are not very rare when it comes to the internet," FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said. "We've all seen those emails coming from Nigeria telling us there's a big fortune and all we have to do is pay the administrative fees. What's unusual in this case is that the allegations are that he did this in face-to-face transactions with people that he actually knew."

The FBI says the victims who have come forward, from Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Las Vegas, did so individually.

"Once the promised investment returns were not coming back to the victim, some of them stepped forward to federal law enforcement and we conducted an investigation that culminated in Thursday's arrest," Simon said.  

Smith will remain in custody until his detention hearing Tuesday. His court date is set for Oct. 29. Smith faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars and a fine up to $250,000 for each of the 39 counts.

If anyone believes they or someone they know may be a victim, you are asked to call the FBI on Kona at 808-239-5106.

 

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