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Richmond man pleads guilty in Internet sales fraud scheme

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A Richmond man has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a scheme involving the sale of fictitious online businesses.

According to court documents, between 2018 and 2019, Harlan Barry Cox, 24, promoted the sale of internet-based businesses, including multiple companies that purported to specialize in the sale of drones, by listing those businesses on online marketplaces.

When soliciting the sales of the purported businesses, Cox, using aliases, misrepresented information about the businesses, including that the businesses had generated millions of dollars in revenue. Cox also fabricated statements from banks and payment processors to support his false claims of substantial revenue.

Interested buyers of the misrepresented businesses subsequently wired substantial down payments to accounts controlled by Cox. Cox used the money for personal expenses and the upkeep of his lifestyle, including the purchase of a luxury Mercedes SUV and various trips to Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles.

Ultimately, Cox defrauded five victims of at least $706,000.

Cox is scheduled to be sentenced on March 1, 2022. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.