Elderly Victims Defrauded of Millions: California Man and Others Sentenced for Investment Fraud

Published: 10 January 2024

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Scammers of financial fraud have been found targeting a vast number of individuals aged over 60. (Photo: Freepik, License)

By Erika Di Benedetto

A Californian court sentenced a man to four years in prison for helping set up an investment fraud scheme through which he and his co-conspirators stole millions from elderly and vulnerable people.

According to U.S. authorities, 66-year-old Daniel Thomas Broyles Sr., from Malibu, played a major role in the investment fraud involving two companies, Niyato Industries Inc. and EarthWater Limited.

Niyato was falsely portrayed to investors as a company that manufactured electric vehicles and converted them to cars running on compressed natural gas.

Online investors were invited to send funds to Niyato, which did not exist, let alone have any facilities or technology to develop.

The money received by Broyles was shared with his accomplices, including Robert Leslie Stencil, 66, who pretended to be the CEO of Niyato.

Broyles took part in another investment scam with the company EarthWater Limited.

Together with EarthWater's CEO, Cengiz Jan Comu, 63, and others, Broyles worked to sell EarthWater's stocks.

They deceived investors by saying that the money they collected would be used to grow EarthWater's business. However, Broyles, Comu, and their partners planned to use most of the investors' money for themselves instead of helping the company.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported in 2022 that monetary losses due to investment fraud reported by victims over 60 increased over 300%, more than any other kind of fraud. Many of these crimes go unreported due to shame, embarrassment, uncertainty about whom to contact, or fear among the victims.

U.S. authorities have been after Broyles and his accomplices since June 2016. Broyles went to Mexico after learning that law enforcement was investigating the companies, and he changed his name and used the alias "Daniel Cruz Torrez."

In March 2022, Broyles was brought back from Mexico to the United States and was accused and pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud, money laundering in connection to the Niyato scam, and the EarthWater fraud.

Before Broyles, seven others were found guilty in the Niyato scam. One of them, named Stencil, was given a sentence of 12 years and three months after a trial that lasted three weeks.

Regarding the EarthWater fraud, eleven other people admitted their guilt. Among them was Comu, who received a prison sentence of 10 years.