Debt Buyer Arrested on Wire Fraud

 

Robert E Bridges is accused of Interstate Transportation of Money Obtained by Fraud. Mr. Bridges, the defendant of Greenwich, Connecticut; claimed to be an investor who purchased debts owed to institutions and collected the debt through collection agencies. He also solicited funds from other investors by falsely representing to them that he would purchase debt with the investors’ funds and seek to collect the debt through collection agencies. At all times relevant to his Indictment, Mr. Bridges operated through various Limited Liability Companies. He encouraged investors to provide him with funds for the stated purpose of partnering with him to buy debt portfolios and to earn a profit or return through the collection of the debts in the portfolios.

 

MR. BRIDGES SETTLES A LAWSUIT AND IS REQUIRED TO PAY MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

 

In or about 2001, Mr. Bridges was sued in a civil proceeding styled Cinema

International Corp. and Proteus, B.V. v. Robert E. Bridges et al. in connection with Mr. Bridges’ business investments. In or about October 2003, Mr. Bridges settled the lawsuit and agreed to make a $5.0 million payment to a New York law firm that represented the plaintiff. The first payment of $1.45 million was due in or about October 2004. All payments were required to be made to the law firm by wire transfer to the law firm’s account in New York City, New York. The settlement agreement provided that if he failed to pay the settlement in a timely manner, he would be required to pay an additional monetary penalty. From in or about October 2004 to in or about July 2005, Bridges failed to make any payment toward the aforementioned settlement. From in or about August 2005 through in or about November 2005, he did provide the New York law firm with approximately $1.9 million towards payment of the $5.0 million settlement.

 

MR. BRIDGES USES INVESTOR FUNDS TO PAY THE LAW FIRM

 

From in or about August 2004 through in or about January 2006, MR. BRIDGES obtained funds from various investors located in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts by promising these investors that he would invest their funds to buy debt portfolios. Bridges made materially false representations to the investors to induce them to invest including that: he would not take a fee for his role in purchasing debt on behalf of the investors; the funds provided to him would be used to purchase debt portfolios; he had been in the business of purchasing debt for many years and had been successful in collecting debt; he would be investing his own funds in the partnership to purchase debt portfolios; and the investor’s funds were secure.

 

From in or about August 2004 to in or about January 2006, Bridges defrauded his

investors by stealing their investments and using the funds for his own benefit to pay for a lavish lifestyle and to pay debts he owed to third parties including the settlement of the lawsuit. To further his scheme to defraud the investors, Bridges used some of the money he obtained from investors to provide the investors with a “return” on their investments.  Bridges made it appear that he had successfully invested the investors’ funds by purchasing debt portfolios and that the money returned to investors represented funds that had been collected from the debt portfolios. In truth, the funds returned to investors were mostly the investors’ own funds and not collections from debt portfolios. Bridges used this method to induce investors to provide him with additional investments.

 

To make it appear that he was successfully collecting debt and that the partnership investments were earning a return, Bridges provided the investors with written status reports. These reports, which Bridges used to solicit additional investments, were false. In an effort to make it appear that he was also investing his own funds in the partnerships or LLC’s he created with investors, Bridges caused an investor and partner to repeatedly send funds to a company located in Buffalo, New York known as Integrated Recovery Services. Bridges then directed a representative of Integrated to return those funds to himself. After he obtained control of these funds in one of his bank accounts, he transferred these funds to another one of his bank accounts. Immediately thereafter, he caused the funds to be sent back to Integrated creating the false impression that he, like his partner, had paid his share of the investment. Once Bridges had created

this false impression, he caused Integrated to provide him with all or most of these funds.

 

In or about January 2006, Bridges falsely represented to a Rhode Island investor

that a debt collection company, New Horizon, located in Indiana, needed $250,000 to operate its business. After Bridges obtained $250,000 from this investor by wire transfer, Bridges sent approximately $150,000 to New Horizon. Immediately thereafter, Bridges directed a representative of New Horizon to return the approximately $150,000 and the money was returned to himself.

 

During 2006 and 2007, Bridges falsely represented to the investors that he would

return their investments. In total, Mr. Bridges obtained approximately $8 million from the investors, and returned approximately $3 million dollars to the investors, causing them to lose approximately $5 million.

 

Bridges is charged with Fraud. He is accused of knowingly and willfully stealing, converting, and taking money from investors by fraud.