BANGOR, Maine — A Stockton Springs man who federal authorities believe defrauded several people of money so that he could invest in an international moneymaking scam went on trial Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
Todd Denson, 50, faces 13 counts of wire fraud involving more than $25,000. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
According to court testimony, Denson told “investors” that he needed money to gain access to millions he had in foreign bank accounts. In most instances, Denson was able to document his alleged wealth. In one case, he played a phone message to a potential investor from an overseas bank that confirmed his wealth, witness testimony revealed.
Three reputed victims testified Tuesday morning that Denson persuaded them to give him money with the promise that he would pay them back more than what they gave. He never made good on that promise.
One alleged victim, Gary Plante of Oakland, was supposed to get a private loan from Denson of $185,000 so he could buy a home. Plante deposited $5,000 into an escrow account at Denson’s request to help facilitate the loan. Nearly a year has passed and Plante has not gotten the loan or his $5,000 back.
Another reported victim, Camillia Arelia, whose hometown was not available, knew Denson socially and at one point offered to give him money on the stipulation that he pay it back. Denson assured her that he had millions overseas that he could access.
The trial is scheduled to resume today.
Denson has been incarcerated since his arrest in April, but this isn’t the first time he has been involved in a fraud case.
In 2006, the U.S. Secret Service was called in after a man responded to a classified newspaper ad promising a $20,000 return on a $40,000 loan, payable in 48 hours. The man said Denson told him he needed the money to release more than $9 million he kept at the “Intercontinental Bank” in England to avoid U.S. taxes.
The man said he wired most of the money to an address in England and gave Denson the rest in cash. He contacted the Secret Service after he wasn’t paid back.
Denson later told Secret Service agents that after he had sent $60,000 of his own money overseas he was instructed to send more money to complete the deal.
In order to attract investors, Denson fabricated stories about how he had made millions designing window-washing equipment or how he stood to inherit millions from his long-lost father.
He eventually confessed to bilking several Cumberland County residents out of nearly $80,000.
He later pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail and wire fraud and was sentenced in Portland in June 2007 to 18 months in federal prison.
He served about 14 months in prison, but according to court documents outlining the new charges, Denson began engaging in the same kind of conduct for which he was convicted almost immediately after his release.
Scams similar to the one in which Denson reportedly became ensnared have become widespread. Many of them operated through mailed letters and fax machines for decades before they moved to the Internet in the 1990s.