A man who defrauded 20 people in West Michigan through an investment fraud scheme is headed to prison.
Steven Jack Hayes of Hudsonville was sentenced last month to 48 months in federal prison, after being convicted of two felonies in connection with the investment fraud scheme he perpetrated between 2001 and 2015, according to The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan last month.
The business scheme
Hayes operated a tax return and investment consulting business under the name Hayes Financial Consulting, Business and Personal Financial Consulting.
He admitted to falsely telling clients that he would invest their money in retirement accounts and other investments, including at Fidelity Investments.
The victims entrusted Hayes with more than $1 million of their money — in some cases, their entire retirement accounts.
Hayes also pled guilty to filing a false 2011 federal tax return that allegedly underreported his income that year by at least $158,000.
“He lulled his victims to invest more money, including some of their annual tax refunds, by creating fake account statements to make it appear as though their investments were earning interest,” said Patrick Miles, U.S. attorney. “In truth, Hayes never invested a dollar and lived on his victims’ retirement accounts and other assets since 2001.”
Hayes has been ordered to pay $822,961.23 in restitution for the victims of his fraud.
He was also ordered to pay the U.S. Treasury $90,806 in restitution pertaining to his false tax return conviction.
U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell imposed the sentence and ordered Hayes remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal to start his sentence.
The U.S. Probation office will supervise Hayes for a period of three years upon his release from prison.
Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated Hayes with assistance from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher O’Connor prosecuted the case.