Lowell Man, Woman Indicted For Scamming Investors for $1 Million

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A federal grand jury in Fort Smith on Thursday handed down an indictment against a Northwest Arkansas man and woman for allegedly defrauding investors of more than $1 million, according to a news release from the office of Conner Eldridge, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

Allen Frederick Wichtendahl, 60, and Diana Stewart, 49, both of Lowell, were indicted on charges of defrauding investors by collecting payments in exchange for ownership in a allegedly lucrative business venture involving a Nigerian power plant and other projects.

Eldridge and Randy Coleman, special agent in charge of the Arkansas Federal Bureau of Investigation, say Wichtendahl solicited individuals to invest in an enterprise he called New Vision Technology, in exchange for a share of the enterprise.

In the 16-count indictment, Wichtendahl faces charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, selling an unregistered security and money laundering.

Stewart was charged with aiding and abetting all 16 counts, and will face the same penalties.

They face the following maximum penalties for each count charged: (1) mail fraud — $250,000 fine and 20 years imprisonment; (2) wire fraud — $250,000 fine and 20 years imprisonment; (3) securities fraud — $5 million fine and 20 years imprisonment; (4) failure to register a security — $10,000 fine and five years imprisonment; (5) money laundering — $250,000 fine (or twice the amount of criminally derived property) and 10 years imprisonment.

According to the indictment, Wichtendahl’s scheme began in Florida during the mid-1990s, and continued when he moved to Northwest Arkansas in June 2009.

Soon after arriving, Wichtendahl met Stewart, and, in July 2009, she began helping Wichtendahl in his scheme to defraud investors.

Wichtendahl coaxed investors by representing that New Vision Technology sold products in Bulgaria and planned to build a power plant, sell tractors and establish a cassava-processing facility in Nigeria.

Wichtendahl also established a misleading website and represented that he had made a $12 million capital investment in the company.

From July 2009 to September 2012, Wichtendahl and Stewart collected more than $1 million from investors, most of which was used to pay for Wichtendahl and Stewart’s personal expenses and to maintain the appearance of a legitimate business enterprise.

Investors received nothing in return for their money.  

The FBI, IRS, Rogers Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case.