BILLINGS – A Billings businessman is facing federal charges from New York state for an alleged scam to defraud nearly a dozen banks across North America to obtain loans to buy two oil tankers.
Todd Capser was arrested Wednesday on a warrant signed by U.S. District Judge Ona T. Wang of the Southern District of New York.
He faces three charges as part of a scam to obtain a $43 million loan from a Canadian financial firm, Third Eye Capital Corp. Also listed in the indictment and a related civil suit is Capser’s father, Edward Michael Capser, though no charges have been filed against the father.
“Despite the fact that this was a $43 million fraud scheme, the alleged illegal conduct was fairly simple. Omitting key information and falsifying loan documents are violations of federal law.
To make matters worse, Capser went so far as to claim his daughter was terminally ill in an effort to explain behavior that would have otherwise attracted negative attention. Capser took a significant risk by conducting himself in this way. Unfortunately for him, he miscalculated the reward,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a news release.
Capser, 47, was a prominent member of the Billings community, serving as state director for former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana in the early 2000s and a former trustee at St. Vincent Healthcare. He later worked remotely in Montana as an executive for a California-based biofuel company.
He is listed as the registered agent for a Wayfare Transportation Company, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Prosecutors say that after he fell behind on payments of the $43 million loan, he approached at least nine different banks across the United States with balance sheets listing fake collateral, seeking loans between $46 million and $52 million.
According to the indictment, Capser approached Third Eye Capital for the initial $43 million bridge loan in January 2016 to buy two oil tankers. Among his listed assets were a cattle company and ranch, neither of which existed, according to the indictment.
Capser has used connections from an extended family to seek the loan from Third Eye Capital, according to prosecutors.
In March 2018, a shipping firm managing the two tankers fell $1 million behind on loan payments, so Capser went to other banks seeking loans, including one in New York.
In December 2018, a bank representative called to confirm if Capser owned a share in a company. Capser admitted the company “is not real… I fabricated all that to get this deal done… the account is not real. I fabricated it all… Everything absolutely everything,” according to court documents.
Prosecutors also say he forged an employee’s signatures in documents used to attempt to obtain the loan.
Capser is in Yellowstone County jail with no bond listed. He faces charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The charges carry a maximum of 42 years in prison: 20 years each for the wire fraud related charges and two years for the aggravated identity theft.
MTN has reached out to Capser’s attorneys and will update this story with any response.
-Erik Olson reporting for MTN News