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California Man & Companies Charged with Defrauding Central Illinois Investors

URBANA, Ill. – A federal grand jury returned an indictment on May 2, 2023, charging Brett Michael Bartlett, 37, of the 9000 block of Grackle Ave., Fountain Valley, California, and his companies, Dynasty Toys, Inc., and 7M E-group Corporation, with wire fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.

The indictment alleges that Bartlett and his California-based companies, Dynasty Toys, and 7M E-group, devised a scheme to defraud investors and obtain their money by making materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises. According to the indictment, Bartlett, thorough Dynasty Toys and 7M E-group, purchased items at liquidation sales and resold those items online, especially through Amazon. Bartlett solicited and accepted money from Central Illinois investors, first to purchase inventory to be resold by 7M E-group at promised annual returns of 20% to 40% and later to purchase Dynasty Toys’ preferred stock shares, which Bartlett claimed were expected to double in value.

According to the indictment, Bartlett induced investors to invest by dramatically overstating the success of the companies and the returns that the companies generated for investors, lying about the companies’ assets, failing to disclose the companies’ struggles even while continuing to solicit investments, and using investors’ funds for Bartlett’s own benefit. For example, Bartlett falsely told investors their existing shares were worth approximately $30 million in total, that Dynasty Toys owned hundreds of millions of dollars of gold assets, and that another company was going to purchase Dynasty Toys for $120 million. As a result, approximately 1,000 individuals, including over 50 investors from Central Illinois, invested over $20 million with Bartlett, 7M E-group, and Dynasty Toys.

According to the indictment, in May of 2020, Bartlett mailed to Central Illinois investors checks totaling millions of dollars, but the checks bounced. The indictment alleges that investors lost approximately $22.5 million as a result of Bartlett’s and his companies’ fraud.

Bartlett, Dynasty Toys, and 7M E-group are scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long in Urbana, Illinois on June 1, 2023, at 2 p.m. for arraignment on the charges. A trial date will be set at that time.

If convicted, Bartlett faces a penalty of up to twenty years in prison on each fraud charge and a penalty of up to ten years in prison on the money laundering charge. Bartlett also faces a penalty of up to three years of supervised release on each charge. The charges also carry maximum fines of up to $6.25 million for Bartlett and up to $27.5 million for the corporations.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Field Office, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller is representing the government in the prosecution.

In a parallel investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed on the same date as the indictment a civil complaint against Bartlett, 7M E-group Corp., Dynasty Toys, Inc., and other defendants in the United States District Court in the Central District of California seeking a civil judgment against them.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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