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Man pleads guilty in Richmond in $1.7M fraud scam involving carbon offset credits

Man pleads guilty in Richmond in $1.7M fraud scam involving carbon offset credits

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A Georgia man pleaded guilty in federal court in Richmond on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of an investment scheme that victimized Virginians, the elderly and others.

Mark H. Loewen, 58, was the president of Atlanta-based World Wide Carbon LLC, which purported to sell investments related to carbon offset credits for profit, according to authorities. He faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison when sentenced on April 6 by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr.

Court documents show that Loewen and co-conspirators misled investors regarding the company’s use of the investor money, the return on investment and the risks of carbon offset credit investments. Seven victims, including Virginians and some who were elderly, invested $1,749,990.

According to the indictment, the California Air Resources Board created a “cap-and-trade” program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program is a market for the right to emit greenhouse gases limited by a cap that declines by 3% each year.

A greenhouse gas producer that creates less than its cap gets an allowance that can be sold as “carbon credits.” The credits can also be reduced by projects that reduce carbon emissions called offsets.

A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said fighting elder abuse and financial fraud targeting seniors is a key priority. Jessica D. Aber, an assistant U.S. attorney, is prosecuting the case.

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