A Texas man who migrated west “to find fame and fortune” pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Santa Ana to three counts of wire fraud that stemmed from a precious-metals telemarketing scheme, a federal prosecutor said.
Eric Matthew Dickey, 25, and his business, Eastern Financial Services, used hard-sell telephone tactics to get clients to wire money to buy contracts for future delivery of silver and platinum. Instead of completing the transactions, though, Dickey pocketed the proceeds, prosecutors said.
An estimated 15 would-be investors lost more than $200,000--money that went directly into Dickey’s bank account and eventually paid for charges at a limousine service and tony hotels in California and Hawaii, said Nancy Wieben Stock, the assistant U.S. attorney who handled the case.
Own Business in Newport Beach
Dickey began his California career as a telemarketing salesman in a San Diego boiler room before striking out on his own in Newport Beach, Stock said. He operated his business from condominiums and apartments in that city, then relocated to a house in Huntington Beach.
That house was raided by Newport Beach police and Postal Service agents in late January; Dickey was arrested on suspicion of grand theft. He was held in jail for 2 weeks before posting bail.
Stock said Dickey’s stint as a phone salesman convinced him “that he could make a lot more money running his own telemarketing outfit because as a salesman he could secure only a small, percentage commission.
“So, he set up Eastern Financial Services, got a bank account, a mail drop, a telephone answering service, utilized the names of previous investors provided by colleagues, and he was in business,” Stock said. “It doesn’t take much.”
Faces Up to 15 Years in Prison
He now faces up to 15 years in federal prison and fines of up to $750,000. In addition, Dickey could be ordered to pay restitution to his victims--throughout the country--of as much as $200,000.
The victims, Stock said, included two ministers in New York state. “One pastor in Amsterdam, N.Y., was brought in by a fellow pastor who believed he was making large profits on paper,” she said.
Dickey is scheduled for sentencing June 12.