A Somers man who was arrested on Valentine’s Day in connection with a financial scam may have himself been a victim.
Douglas E. Castle was accused of wire fraud in federal court in White Plains for allegedly soliciting $750,000 from two people on promises of investing the money. Instead, the criminal complaint states, he used the funds for personal expenses as well as to send to people in Ghana. He concealed his losses, the complaint states, “in an effort to regain his own lost money and attract new funds.”
Castle’s attorney, Rachel Martin, did not respond to a request for comment.
The complaint states that Castle persuaded an unnamed victim to loan him $525,000 to invest in a United Kingdom firm. Instead, he allegedly transferred funds to people in Ghana.
He persuaded another unnamed victim to loan him $250,000 to invest with an associate with whom he claimed he had completed successful deals. Actually, the government said, Castle had sent funds to the associate but had not been repaid.
The victims fell for the stories several times, loaning from $50,000 to $200,000 at a time, from 2014 to 2017.
The complaint describes the alleged hustle as an “advance fee scam,” a common online fraud in which the victim is promised outsized returns in exchange for advance payment of various banking and legal fees.
Castle allegedly claimed that his Ghanaian associate owed him $7 million and he just needed $100,000 to pay for transferring funds to the U.S. He didn’t mention that he had already transferred $480,000 to Ghana, including funds previously loaned by both victims, and had received nothing in return.
The victim wired him $100,000.
Two FBI agents who were unaware of Castle’s solicitations interviewed him in June 2016 after Ghanaian authorities froze one of his wire transfers. By then, the complaint states, Castle believed that he was being defrauded by his business associate.
But following the interview, Castle continued to solicit funds from both victims.
And nearly a year later, in May 2017, he sent the victims an email that said he had been driven to attempted suicide. He said he was working with a special unit of the FBI, a multiagency task force, Secret Service and the FTC “to bring these individuals to justice and to recover whatever balances may be obtainable.”
The FBI had no record of contacts with Castle after the 2016 interview.
Castle posted a $500,000 appearance bond. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison ordered him to continue mental health treatment and counseling.