In 2019, Nathanal L. Knox planned and implemented a scheme that was sure to bring him some money. This year he also got her a seat in the courtroom. According to a Justice Department press release, Knox placed ads on at least 38 Facebook pages, including Hunt Florida, Ohio Hunting Lease, Bow Hunting PA, and Alabama Deer Hunters, selling quality hunting property leases in Ohio, properties that he does not own
The 30-year-old Ohio resident provided images of big money and falsely claimed previous clients harvested it on the land in question to assure victims of his legitimacy. He charged between $400 and $5,000 for the leases and accepted payments through PayPal, Walmart2Walmart, Money Gram, Western Union and Venmo. After Knox received the initial money transfer, he emailed contracts and instructions.
When two hunters from Florida traveled to the lease site to explore the area, they were confronted by the actual owner and realized they were victims of fraud. They immediately contacted the sheriff’s department and made an appointment to meet with Knox under the impression that they would pay him the second half of a $5,000 fee.
Due to the help of these two hunters, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department arrested Knox on September 30, 2019. Around that time, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife also received multiple complaints. from other owners. Together, ODNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service conducted an investigation that involved search warrants on social media accounts, subpoenas on payment facilitators, and interviews with victims.
“Protecting sustainable hunting of America’s wildlife resources is at the core of our mission at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Edward Grace, deputy director of the Office of Compliance, said in the news release. of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Act. “Investigating those who take advantage of people who attempt to hunt legally by defrauding them is our trustworthy responsibility to the American people.”
Over the course of his scandal, Knox solicited down payments from at least 59 people, all of whom were non-Ohio residents. In all, she earned more than $34,000 in illicit proceeds. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and will be sentenced in the coming months by a federal district court judge. The maximum sentence he could receive is 20 years in prison.
“The Justice Department prosecutes fraud in many forms,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The defendant’s scheme not only deceived dozens of innocent people, but also endangered landowners and hunters. The Department thanks its law enforcement partners for stopping Knox before anyone was hurt.”