SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — A Santa Monica man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal wire fraud in a scam in which he deceived four women, including “Black-ish” actress Jenifer Lewis, into investing in his sham companies.
According to court documents, between May 2015 and October 2018, 57-year-old Antonio Mariot Wilson — also known as Dr. Tony Mariot and Brice Carrington — engaged in romantic relationships with the women before conning them into giving him a total of $387,000 for his purported businesses.
Wilson met some of the women through Bumble and other dating apps. He met Lewis at a gym, where he was working as a manager.
Among Wilson’s false claims were that he was a Navy SEAL, an Oxford University graduate and a UCLA professor. He admitted to lying to the women about his companies in order to get their investments.
“It was a romance scam. I was investing in a dream,” Lewis said in a “Good Morning America” interview. “It was so painful.”
Wilson said Ultimate FX and 2nd Life — which he presented as a sound design company and software business, respectively — had been used by ABC and EA.
He falsely claimed that 2nd Life was valued by investors, whose identities he used without permission, at more than $30 million with a present valuation of $3.2 million.
Wilson used the victims’ money to fund his own lifestyle, including paying off his credit card debt, rent and buying luxury items, prosecutors said.
He previously served four years in prison after pleading guilty in 2009 to wire fraud and tax evasion charges in California for carrying out a similar scheme.
The FBI was part of the investigation into Wilson, who now faces up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for September 29.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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