Jacksonville, Florida – Daniel Summers (68, St. Augustine) has pleaded guilty to mail fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. The United States is also seeking forfeiture in the amount of $744,910, the proceeds Summers obtained as a result of the fraud. The amount of restitution due to victims will be determined at a later date.
According to court documents, Summers owned a Jacksonville-based company called Realty E Vest, a/k/a IHT Realty Group, which operated an internet crowdfunding investment platform for real estate development projects. Summers also owned E Vest Technology, which sought to develop and license the Realty E Vest crowdfunding platform to others seeking to manage their own crowdfunding efforts. Individuals invested in projects by wiring funds to Realty E Vest, where the funds were supposed to be held in escrow until the project met its crowdfunding goal. If a project failed to meet its goal, Summers promised to return the investors’ funds.
When several Realty E Vest crowdfunding projects failed to fully fund, Summers intentionally kept the investors’ money and misappropriated it to fund the ongoing operations of his companies, including paying employee salaries. Summers gave these victims the illusion that they had successfully invested in these projects by paying investors purported investment returns for the failed projects via mailed checks or wire transfers. Summers also repaid the investments of some victims who had complained after learning the crowdfunding projects had actually failed to fund. However, the money funding these payments was not derived from the real estate developers or any legitimate investment activity; instead, it was derived from victims’ principal investments in other crowdfunding ventures and equity investments Summers solicited in E Vest Technology.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David B. Mesrobian.