CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Acting U.S. Attorney William T. Stetzer announced today that a Utah man appeared in federal court and pleaded guilty to federal charges for orchestrating an investment scheme involving mining for precious metals. Andrew Malcolm Lovett, 59, a former resident of Cornelius, N.C., currently residing in Utah, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and transactional money laundering before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler.
Matthew D. Line, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Charlotte Field Office (IRS-CI), Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which oversees Charlotte, join Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer in making today’s announcement.
According to filed plea documents and today’s plea hearing, from 2014 to 2016, Lovett executed a financial fraud scheme involving investments in mining projects involving precious metals. During the course of the scheme, Lovett fraudulently obtained nearly $850,000 from more than 30 investors, by inducing victims to invest in Safari Minerals, Inc. (Safari) and other entities with which Lovett was affiliated. To induce victims to invest their money, Lovett falsely told them that their money would be used to grow Safari and to develop various purported mining projects.
According to court records, Lovett described Safari to his investors as “an emerging junior exploration and mining company” that focused on acquiring and developing properties in Nevada which “contains an abundance of … Gold, Silver, Platinum Group Metals and Rare Earth Elements….” Lovett also misled investors by touting his experience as a seasoned businessman with a wealth of experience in the mining industry. As Lovett admitted in court today, among other things, he lied to investors about the progress and viability of Safari and failed to disclose to investors his diversion of several hundred thousand dollars from Safari for his own personal use.
According to documents filed in court, rather than use the victims’ money to grow Safari’s business as promised, Lovett used a significant portion of the investments to pay for personal expenses like rent, entertainment and travel, and to make Ponzi-style payments to other victim investors.
Following his court appearance, Lovett was released on bond. The securities fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The transactional money laundering charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.
In making today’s announcement Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer thanked IRS-CI, FBI, and the USPIS for its investigation of the case.
Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Ryan and Caryn Finley, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, are prosecuting the case.