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American Bancshares Accused of Fraud

(CN) - American Bancshares Corporation bilked two Brazilian companies out of $4.4 million through a scam built upon sham corporate investment contracts, the alleged victims claim in a federal lawsuit.

In a complaint filed in Miami, the plaintiff companies, Costao do Santinho Turismo e Lazer, Ltda. and Industria de Plasticos SA, and their mutual owner, Fernando Marcondes de Mattos, say they made millions of dollars' worth of wire money transfers as advanced payments on what later learned were fictitious loans tied to the contracts.

"Plaintiffs eventually discovered they were victims of a massive advance payment scam in which the 'mark' is offered a large sum of money, but asked to put up a comparatively small sum in order to finalize or guarantee the 'deal,'" the complaint says. "Defendants gave the scam the appearance of legitimacy by using what appeared to be legal documents and genuine corporations and entities."

The plaintiffs allege that in order to carry out the scheme, the defendants employed a modus operandi that included the use of multiple players in different locations; funneling money through bank accounts at known banks in major markets like New York; created extensive documentary requirements that lead to repeated delays and mounting interest and fees; offered their 'marks' bridge loans or credit lines (all of which required additional advance payments); and used pressing deadlines to impose time pressure.

Mattos says he met with American Bancshares representatives in Brazil in 2012 to discuss increasing the cash flow to various projects his companies were undertaking; he says the plan the defendant offered consisted of two loans, each for over $20 million supposedly under the auspices of Deutsche Capital Holding Company Ltd.

The parties signed contracts for the transactions in Panama City in October 2012, and Mattos says he proceeded to pay over $400,000 for insurance and advanced payments on the loans.

After the initial payments, Mattos says, the defendants employed the "bait and switch" tactic in order to milk more money out of him.

Mattos says in all be made about $4.4 million in of advance payments into escrow accounts, and that he never saw a dime of the purported loans.

The plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages on claims of civil conspiracy, fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, aiding and abetting fraud, and negligent misrepresentation.

They are represented by Curtis Miner of Colson Hicks Eidson PA of Coral Gables, Fla.

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