Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA, businessman scammed investors in a scheme to build a USD 11 million fish farm.
The Argus Leader reports Tobias Ritesman has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison Monday and has to pay USD 680,000 in restitution by Judge Karen Schreier.
Ritesman, 42, who called himself “The Tiger,” pleaded guilty to 18 counts of mail and wire fraud.
Before the investigation, the former comic book store worker he modelled himself as a wily businessman. At one posted an image of himself dressed up James Bond to his Facebook page, accompanied with an inspirational quote from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “To operate in the world, one must learn to dance with chaos as its master. And if you ever have to tell someone you’re powerful, you’re not.”
However, Thatcher is not attributed to that speech. Though it sits comfortably amongst his many deceptions.
Ritesman defrauded investors out of money for a fundraising plan that would have been an aquaponics facility in Brookings, South Dakota, USA, called Global Aquaponics – through his other company Ritesman Enterprises.
But instead of using the money for the project, Ritesman along with the COO of Global Aquaponics Tim Burns the former spent it on themselves.
The pair told would-be investors that their site – which would have been the first indoor fish farm in the state – would be replicated across the country to franchisees.
But instead nothing got built and investors lost their money – built on the promise of a sustainable aquaponic model that can grow plants and fish.
In 2016, Ritesman told Kelo about his plans.
“Because of the technology that is going to be involved in this facility, it creates between 2.5 to 3 million pounds of food per year on eight acres of land which can be anywhere in the world.”
In 2016, the Argus Leader’s investigation found that Ritesman had gone to long lengths to boast to investors that he’d joined the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg by winning a UN business award for his aquaponic vision. However, it had never been given before and two supposed members of an “international panel of judges” who gave Ritesman the award don’t know anything about it.
It was just all part of Ritesman’s miasmatic handling of business which also included: a plan to break ground on the aquaponics facility while he didn’t own the land, pulling a gun out during a meeting on creating his own cryptocurrency to fund the project, lying about gaining a business MBA and being an advisor to Google.
“This is an appropriate federal prison sentence for what was an ambitious and surprisingly audacious fraudulent scheme,” U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons said in a statement. “A lot of South Dakotans lost a lot of money as the result of the web of lies spun by this defendant.”