Sacramento, California - A resident of Georgia was arrested Monday in Grayson, Georgia, for a scheme conducted online that defrauded a business owner in in California and a second business owner in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
On October 22, a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against Michael Uziewe, 61, of Grayson, Georgia, charging him with bank fraud. This indictment was unsealed Monday.
According to court documents, Uziewe owned a purported business named God’s Word Christian Book Store. In March 2020, the first victim, an owner of a classic car dealership in Irvine, began communicating with a purported seller of two transmissions. At the seller’s direction, the victim sent more than $13,000 to the God’s Word business account that Uziewe controlled at Ameris Bank. The victim never received the transmissions.
Also in April 2020, the second victim, an owner of a nail salon in Jersey City, New Jersey, sent more than $100,000 to Uziewe’s Ameris Bank account. She sent the funds to assist the return to the United States of an individual who claimed he was a surgeon working for the United Nations in Yemen and needed money to pay for costs associated with traveling to the United States.
When Uziewe attempted to withdraw the funds from the God’s Word account, he falsely claimed that they were proceeds of book sales.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Uziewe faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.