ST. GEORGE — A former Kane County resident, who allegedly solicited money from elderly individuals by promising he was on the verge of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars, will be arraigned in federal court in St. George Thursday.
Kurt Jurgens Bauer, 56, who has also lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, was indicted in U.S. District Court on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of false impersonation of a federal employee, according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday that was filed in federal court in July.
“This case involves a defendant who allegedly exploited the trust of hardworking and honest people, including elderly citizens of Southern Utah and Nevada,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said in a statement released Wednesday.
According to federal prosecutors, the defendant ran the scheme from 2011 through April 2020, during which he defrauded his elderly targets out of money and property by telling them he was on the verge of receiving hundreds of millions, and in some cases, billions, of dollars, funds that were frozen by the District Court in Nevada and required a bond to release.
The defendant began soliciting payments, often weekly, under the guise that the funds would be used to satisfy the bond, with the promise of a large return, once he received the funds after they were released by the court and returned to the defendant “in the near future,” according to the indictment.
In all, the defendant received over $300,000 from a number of individuals during the scheme, $100,000 of which came from two elderly individuals in their 80’s.
In reality, Bauer lied to his victims, federal prosecutors say, not only about his wealth, of which he had little apart from the money he took from those he defrauded, but also about the court process and payments needed to release funds. In fact, there were no funds being held in any court to which the defendant was entitled, and he had no way of paying back the promised returns.
The alleged “bond” payments Bauer was paid were never sent to any court but instead were spent on expensive hotel bills, credit-card payments and restaurant tabs, among other things.
To ensure the scheme was successful, Bauer created a series of false identities, including one of a New York attorney, a federal court employee, and he even played the part of a billionaire to deceive the individuals from which he was soliciting bond payments. He also created phone numbers and email accounts for each of his fake identities.
Unbeknownst to the victims, Bauer and his accomplices portrayed those false identities when making phone calls, sending emails and when he sent text messages to the victims.
To further the scheme, the defendant and his accomplices impersonated federal judges and a federal court administrator to convince the individuals that the court process was legitimate and to persuade them to continue making the payments on the bond.
The three wire fraud charges involve three wire transfers: a $15,000 wire transfer from the elderly individual’s account to Bauer’s account on March 30, 2017, a $10,000 transfer made by the same individual into the defendant’s account the following month and an $8,500 transfer the following year.
Also included in the indictment was a notice to seek forfeiture, including any property that was derived from the proceeds of the scheme.
If convicted of the charges, Bauer faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud and up to three years for each count of false impersonation of an employee of the United States. The defendant is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in St. George Thursday morning.
These cases will continue to be aggressively pursued by authorities, including local law enforcement, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office.
While the victims may never see their money again, investigators will continue their efforts to let criminals know that “crimes like this don’t pay,” the statement said.
“Kurt Bauer is suspected of praying on some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover said in the release. “We take fraud violations seriously, especially when these crimes are committed against the elderly who tend to be more trusting of such schemes.”
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