Local scam artist swindles people nationwide, dubbed 'Bernie Madoff of Baton Rouge'
POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 3:19pm
Baton Rouge, La (NBC33) — UPDATE: 3/24/14:
A baton rouge area scam artist says he's responsible for bilking half a million dollars from his victims.
Johnathan Williams told the federal court he's guilty of wire fraud and that he scammed people out of their money by using a fake trust account. He also told the judge he's been doing it for years.
Accordint to officials, Williams didn't just use his fake trust fund to con people out of their money. According to victims, he set up fake businesses, letterhead, and issued worthless checks.
A sentencing date is set for July 7, 2014. Williams faces 20 years in jail on the current charges. The investigation is ongoing, so more charges are possible.
Original story: 1/31/13
A Baton Rouge man is becoming known across the country as one of the biggest scam artists around.
His name is Johnathan Williams, and he's earned the nickname the "Bernie Madoff of Baton Rouge".
For the past 10 years or so, he's allegedly been conning people out of lots of money.
Mark Burd said he met Williams, 33, a few years back.
“It seems like we're all financing his lifestyle," stated Burd. "I’m a car lover and part of why I was interested is that he had this yellow Lamborghini that was just a gorgeous car."
Burd says investing in real estate with Williams seemed like a good idea at the time.
“I watched him get into a private jet, and he threw me the keys to a $160,000 car and said ‘See you in a week’. Somebody without money doesn't do that kind of thing, so I’m thinking ‘Certainly there's no risk here!’”
Burd still hasn't gotten his money back, “I loaned him $5,000. He actually wanted $10,000, but I got cold feet."
Lawsuits filed by others against Williams just here in Baton Rouge shows that Williams did a lot of people wrong.
NBC33 also interviewed another victim of Williams, who wished to remain anonymous.
"He's not only really good at getting it out of you. He's also really good and finding ways not to pay you back,” stated the victim. “I found out its something he makes a career out of."
'These are checks Jonathan Williams wrote to me to give him cash because these (checks) were from out-of-state banks,” continued the victims. “He needed some cash immediately, and he promised I could keep money on top of what I gave him. They ended up being from closed accounts.”
Williams has been booked for writing worthless checks into East Baton Rouge Parish Jail, but NBC33 has spoken to victims from Nevada to New York who also say Williams never paid them back either. In fact, former Saint Jeremy Shockey told the world to stay away from Williams, tweeting he's a "bad person!"
Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore is aware of the allegations, but the only cases from Williams he has handled are closed.
NBC33 visited Williams' last known address to get his side of the story, but to no avail. However, a neighbor confirmed Williams does live at the residence with his grandmother.
“It’s been a while now, so I know the police did look for him,” said the neighbor. “I know, periodically, he has had some issues.”
Issues his alleged victims say need to be stopped – now.
“It would be nice for him to pay everyone back,” said Burd. “I just don’t see that happening.”
Williams is walking on thin ice; he's currently on felony probation in Louisiana.
If you've been scammed by Williams or anyone else, call the Sheriff's Department at 225-389-5000 or the Baton Rouge Police Department at 225-389-3800.