Texas Retailer Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud
Santiago Mora used his business partner’s identity to receive $500,000 in cash advances to pay clients.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, federal Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced 40-year-old Santiago Mora to 27 months in prison, immediately followed by three years of supervised release.
Mora owned half of Laspis Lazuli LLC, which did business as retailer Alku Modern Jewelers in Katy, Texas. A silent partner based in Sandy, Utah, owned the other 50 percent.
According to the release, Mora failed to deliver pre-paid Rolex watches valued at about $3.9 million to a customer.
To pay said customer and others, Mora created and executed a scheme to obtain $500,000 in merchant cash advances via wire transfer by impersonating his business partner and using his good credit.
He eventually admitted the fraud to his business partner.
Mora was indicted in November 2020 but released on $50,000 bond.
As local reports began surfacing about the retailer defrauding additional customers at his jewelry store, the government moved to revoke his bond, court records show.
But Mora didn’t show up for the revocation hearing, and FBI agents arrested him in June 2021 in Miami on a warrant for failure to appear.
He pleaded guilty to wire fraud on March 3.
He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined soon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Mora also was wanted by the sheriff’s office in Fort Bend County, Texas, for first-degree felony theft related to Alku Modern Jewelers.
A local news station aired multiple reports of people who claim they gave Mora money for items they never received, including a man who said he’s out $3,500 for an engagement ring and another who said he paid the retailer $26,000 for two rare Rolex watches that were never delivered.
The sheriff’s office said their investigation has been filed with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office. No other information was available by press time.
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