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Utahn indicted in alleged Nigerian oil scam

Published May 16, 2014 6:50 am

Courts • He used funds for Ponzi payments and 'lavish lifestyle,' charges say.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A federal grand jury has indicted a Layton man for allegedly defrauding investors through a Ponzi scheme involving non-existent investments in Nigerian "oil deals."

The grand jury handed up an indictment this week on four counts of wire fraud against Brandon Benson, 41, that alleges, in addition to Ponzi payments, that he used investor monies for "personal expenses and to support his lavish lifestyle."

Benson, also a resident of Orange County, Calif., sold investors on deals in which shipments of oil would be purchased in Africa and transported and sold at higher prices in other parts of that continent, while telling them their monies would only be used only as guarantee and was "safe and secure." He promised returns of 40 to 120 percent a year, according to the indictment.

Instead, Benson used some of investor monies to pay returns to other investors in what's known as a Ponzi scheme. He never actually invested their money in any oil transactions, the indictment says.

The charges don't state how much money Benson took in, but say one investor gave him $600,000.

Benson is scheduled to make a first appearance in U.S. District Court for Utah on June 11.