Scammer Scott Wolas, 67, who is a former Hunton & Williams partner has been arrested after 20 years in hiding. The arrest was made on recent alleged investment fraud. Wolas was using one of his many aliases last year when he convinced his friends to give him $1.5 million to buy the former Beachcomber club in Massachusetts while working as a real estate agent. He then disappeared with the money, like he had done many times before.
Wolas had been on the run since 1997 after he was found to be connected to other criminal activity. He had conducted a $100 million fake liquor exporting scheme at one point and was wanted in that case on 119 counts including fraud and grand larceny. He also obtained a license to sell investments under another alias in 2001, which was discovered by FBI agents. He left Hunton & Williams prior to going under the radar and was disbarred in 1999.
Wolas had been involved in scams across multiple states. His many aliases include Eugene J. Grathwohl, Allen L. Hengst, Drew Prescott, Frank Amolsch, Endicott Asquith and Cameron Sturge, most of which are actual people rather than simply made up identities who Wolas knew or still associates with. They have been interviewed by the police. His alleged victims include those closest to him, such as his ex-girlfriend in Quincy and Wollaston-area real estate agent Arthur Foley. One investor who was interviewed, now a resident of Utah, withdrew $98,000 from her IRA on the promise she would get her money back with 50 percent interest, in 60 days. Wolas also used $350,000 to start construction on a nearby house project in Quincy, and he allegedly spent an additional $98,000 on stamps, books, and collectibles, using PayPal. He spent another $50,000 dining at restaurants.
Wolas would concoct scammer stories he’d tell his unsuspecting victims, including a story of a wife and children lost in a plane crash, according to authorities and direct interviews with the victims. “He was our top broker one year,” said his Wollaston real estate associate Arthur Foley. “It gives a little closure to the situation. It’s good to know he’s not walking around spending our money with a big smile on his face.”
Wolas had allegedly confessed that he was operating under an alias and revealed his true identity to a woman he met on an online dating site. They had dinner on Cape Cod in October and stayed in touch by phone and e-mail. He sent her packages, including one on March 24 that included photos of himself. She would later become a witness in the case.
The scammer made his initial appearance in federal court in Florida’s southern district on felony charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. U.S. attorney’s office in Boston expects that authorities will bring Wolas back to Massachusetts as proceedings continue. He has not yet entered a plea. If found guilty in this most recent case, Wolas faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge and a minimum of two years on the identity theft charge. Prosecutors could seek a fine of up to $250,000 on each charge, as well as restitution for investors.