There are many ways to make millions. However, evidenced by CNBC’s American Greed, most of those ways are illegal. Week after week, American Greed shows ambitious scammers making fortunes off of the wealthy, through various schemes. Most of the time the scheme is just one bold lie. The recent indictment of businessman Rolf Ramelmeier is ripe for an episode. Yesterday, the 78-year-old man plead guilty to bleeding the world’s fifth largest defense contractor, Northrop Grumman of $11 million.
How did he do it? He lied. Ramelmeier owned and operated a business called JADM, Inc.. Through JADM, he was a supplier of natural gas. Northrop Grumman was his sole client from 2003 until 2013, and he supplied them with natural gas from companies like BGE and PEPCO. However, prosecutors charged that Ramelmeier overcharged the corporation “through inflated invoices, concealed by a complex scheme involving a false corporate identity and bank accounts he maintained in the names of shell entities.”
According to the Baltimore Sun:
He represented himself to gas companies as a broker, telling them they were entering into contracts directly with Northrop Grumman, prosecutors said. Then, Ramelmeier had the suppliers mail invoices for the gas to a falsely named P.O. box in North Carolina, where an associate would collect them and send them back to him, allowing them to alter and inflate them, prosecutors said.
Northrop Grumman paid JADM the inflated prices, which Ramelmeier used to pay back the gas suppliers, keeping the remainder for himself.
Northrop Grumman neglected to notice anything amiss for a minute, but when employees saw suspicious charges come up, a consulting firm was brought in to investigate. When analysts notified the corporation of $11 million in overcharges, they brought the drama to Ramelmeier’s doorstep. The elderly scam artist paid off his mortgage in the days following. He also closed the North Carolina P.O. Box.
After the guilty plea, Rolf Ramelmeier is facing 20 years in prison (probably the rest of his natural life) for mail fraud and money laundering.