JUSTICE

‘Dirt into gold’ scam lands two Utah men in federal prison

Apr 23, 2021, 6:28 PM
dirt gold...
(Stock Photo)
(Stock Photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – Two Utah men who reportedly claimed they could turn dirt into gold are now in federal prison.  Prosecutors say they were part of a group that scammed over 100 victims out of roughly $8 million over the span of three years.

On the surface, the claim that dirt can be turned into gold seems completely unbelievable.  However, Brian Maxwell with the Utah Department of Commerce says Marc Tager and Matthew Mangum showed next-level forms of deceit, and they spent a massive amount of money to make their business look real.  One victim, a dentist, gave the men hundreds of thousands of dollars after inspecting their South Jordan refinery for himself, believing it was real.

Maxwell says, “They had spent nearly $3 million of that $8 million, supposedly, on building the infrastructure around this business idea.”

Prosecutors say Tager and Mangum joined California resident Jonathon Edward Shoucair in forming Jersey Consulting, LLC.  That company reportedly claimed they developed “revolutionary” nanotechnology that could extract 20 times the amount of gold than regular mining.  It was also labeled as an environmentally friendly way to get the metal.

Did they actually process any gold?  Maxwell says they’re not certain.  Tager and Mangum reportedly claimed they did, but it was a very small amount, and investigators never actually saw it.

“They never extracted more than $20,000 to $30,000 worth of gold from the process that they had pioneered,” Maxwell says.  To put that into perspective, $30,000 worth of gold is just over a pound.

Maxwell says Tager and Mangum also partnered with Kenneth Gross of Porter Ranch, California, who reportedly ran a cold-calling operation to find possible investors from all over the country.  Most of the victims were older than 65, and the scammers allegedly promised to double the investors’ money within a year. 

“The scammers involved, here, believed they were underselling that.  They thought they could make even more than that,” Maxwell says.

Did the men know it was a scam all along, or did they actually believe they could extract gold from dirt?  Maxwell says it’s hard for them to know that.  However, he says the suspects failed to give investors very important information.

“They hid the names of the people involved who had criminal histories,” Maxwell says.  “From the very get-go, this scheme had deceit in it.”

Tager was sentenced to 43 month for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, money laundering and possession of a firearm by a restricted person.  Mangum received 48 months for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.  Prosecutors say Tager and Shoucair met each other in federal prison while serving sentences for fraud-related crimes.

Contributing: Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

 

Other Reading:

Got a package you didn’t order? It could be part of a scam

Florida man arrested for reportedly scamming an elderly Utahn out of thousands

Today’s Top Stories

Justice

A transgender flag is pictured in front of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, ...
Simone Seikaly

Transgender girls can compete in Utah with commission approval after judge pauses ban

Trans girls can compete in Utah only after approval by a commission created by Utah lawmakers who envisioned a challenge to HB11.
12 hours ago
Lori Vallow Daybell probable cause statement...
Aimee Cobabe

Attorneys for Lori Vallow Daybell ask judge to separate conspiracy counts

An Idaho judge was asked Tuesday by the attorneys for Lori Vallow Daybell to separate two conspiracy counts against her.
4 days ago
west high protest...
Simone Seikaly

Utah judge cancels hearing on trans athlete ruling in favor of written opinion

Tuesday's hearing was scheduled to issue a ruling on a request for a preliminary injunction against a Utah law that bans transgender athletes from competing in girls' high school sports.
4 days ago
Former President Donald Trump is pictured....
Katelyn Polantz, Zachary Cohen, Sara Murray and Marshall Cohen, CNN

FBI took 11 sets of classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, including some highly classified material

The search warrant identifies three federal crimes that the DOJ is looking at as part of its investigation, which includes violations of the Espionage Act.
8 days ago
A west valley police car is pictured. Police just made an arrest in the recent hit and run...
Samantha Herrera

Police arrest suspect in West Valley hit-and-run that killed 11-year-old boy

A 45-year-old man has been arrested in relation to a hit and run in West Valley City that killed an 11-year-old boy.
8 days ago
garland unseal Trump...
Tierney Sneed, CNN

Merrick Garland says FBI files motion to unseal Trump Mar-a-Lago warrant

The move comes after days of silence from the Justice Department regarding the search, as is the department's practice for ongoing investigations.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

‘Dirt into gold’ scam lands two Utah men in federal prison