According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Anthony Eric Mitchell, 52, of Charlotte, was one of the two managing principals of a company called Aura Exchange LLC (AURA). Mitchell and his co-conspirator, Armando Almirall, through AURA, promised their clients that they could help obtain funding for a host of business purposes, such as real estate transactions and television projects. Instead, Mitchell and Almirall spent large portions of their clients’ funds on personal expenses, including trips to casinos, concert tickets, stays at beach resorts, cash withdrawals, and wire transfers overseas on speculative investments.
In order to induce the victims to provide AURA with money, Mitchell and Almirall made numerous fraudulent misrepresentations. The two promised clients that they were guaranteed to receive their initial equity deposits back when, in fact, none of the victims ever received any money from AURA. Mitchell and Almirall claimed that AURA had offices in Zurich, London, and New York when no such offices existed. Mitchell and Almirall also falsely claimed that AURA controlled valuable precious metals, such as nickel wire, that could be “monetized” in order to generate huge profits.
Mitchell and Almirall also maintained a website for AURA that contained a number of misrepresentations, including claims that AURA was an industry leader in a number of fields, that AURA was an international business with access to hundreds of financiers, and that AURA could turn around funding to its clients in as little as 24 hours. AURA never made any money for any of its clients, and in fact, victims of the fraud suffered losses of at least $1.47 million.
In October 2019, Mitchell was convicted on all counts after a five-day jury trial. Mitchell was also ordered to pay full restitution to the victims of the crime.
Mitchell’s business partner and co-conspirator, Armando Almirall, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to over five years in prison in February 2020.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamar K. Walker and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg prosecuted the case.