On March 29, 2019, Robert Zink, Acting Chief of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), filed a motion in the Austin Smith criminal case. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3771(d)(2), the U.S. moves for authorization to use the so-called alternative victim notification procedures to inform potential victims. The U.S. DOJ wants to use its website to inform potential victims because it believes that there are a large number of potential crime victims, making it impracticable to notify them on an individualized basis.
Austin Smith has pleaded guilty to fraud with binary options. The U.S. Attorney General’s Office has stated in the Stipulation of Facts that Austin Smith has actually ripped off the victims twice. First as a so-called broker for BinaryBook with the stage name John Ried and in his afterlife as an alleged “Funds Recovery Expert” of Wealth Recovery International (WRI).
According to U.S. prosecutors, Smith failed to inform the victims that he had helped with WRI for a 30% commission that he had stolen their money from them in the first place using the stage name John Ried. Smith has been released into house arrest until his sentence against a secured bond of $300,000. His parents Emilie and Gary Smith had to pledge their real property which will be forfeited in the event of a failure to appear or surrender to serve any sentence imposed.
Founded by Austin Smith, Wealth Recovery International (WRI) is actually designed similarly to the Binary Options scams. On the WRI website, you search in vain for the legal entity behind it. In fact, the brand “Wealth Recovery International” is registered by the U.S. company Guardian Benefits LLC which is owned by his mother Emilie Smith. The registered address is the place of Austin Smith´s home arrest.
In 2017, Austin Smith and his WRI have been sued by the Israeli owner of Yukom Communication in Israel for stealing client data, i.e. data of binary options victims. Allegedly, WRI worked with these client data and blackmailed Yukom to recover funds for WRI clients. Until early 2016, Smith worked as a manager for Numaris Communication, a Yukom partner to promote the illegal binary options platform BinaryBook. According to the U.S. authorities, Smith himself defrauded investors as manager of Numaris. With WRI and stolen client data he addressed these victims with WRI’s funds recovery services.
The supplement to the plea agreement is still sealed. It is assumed that Smith will testify against the former Yukom CEO Lee Elbaz in trial.