A shadowy fraudster known as “Mr. T” has been convicted in a federal court in New York of running an international boiler-room operation that bilked elderly victims out of nearly $2 million.
Robert Lenard Booth, 67, had been accused of setting up phony investment brokerages with names similar to real ones and using high-pressure sales tactics to get gullible victims to buy stocks.
But prosecutors say victims never received any shares, and that Booth instead had much of the cash sent through accounts run by a Long Island family of accused money launderers who would allegedly take a cut and then send it to banks in Thailand, where Booth lived.
Booth’s co-conspirators, who knew him by his birth name, Trevor Nicholas, would often refer to him in correspondence as “Mr. T” or simply “T,” according to court papers. Booth legally changed his name to Robert Lenard Booth in 2019 but held passports in both identities, prosecutors said.
Between 2019 and 2021, prosecutors said Booth fleeced dozens of victims, mostly in Canada and Australia, out of nearly $2 million.
“Robert Lenard Booth stole his victims’ life savings and moved the money around the world to hide his elaborate fraud,” said Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. “He thought he could get away with it. Today the jury showed him he was wrong.”
Booth’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Booth had been accused of running boiler-room operations out of Thailand and Panama, in which he and his co-conspirators would contact victims and pressure them into buying stocks. Those they successfully duped would be told to sign nondisclosure agreements and instructed to wire money to accounts in New York, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Those accounts were set up to appear to be clearing houses, but were actually accounts controlled by alleged money-laundering operations, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The money launderers would then take a 25% cut and wire the money back to Booth in Thailand, prosecutors said.
The victims were sent phony documents stating they had purchased stock, but prosecutors said no shares were ever bought and the money went into the pockets of Booth and his co-conspirators. The fraudsters would then cease communicating with the victims.
The New York bank accounts were allegedly controlled by a family in Glen Cove, N.Y., who were charged in February with running a broad money-laundering operation for multiple overseas boiler-room outfits, prosecutors and the SEC said.
That operation laundered some $8 million stolen from 140 victims worldwide, prosecutors allege.
Booth was arrested at JFK International Airport in 2021 when he flew back from Thailand. He had been under house arrest in Brooklyn ever since.
He faces up to 45 years in prison for his conviction on securities fraud, wire fraud and money-laundering charges.