Atlantan pleads guilty in fraud scheme

Promised venture capital in exchange for fees

An Atlanta man who defrauded more than three dozen budding business entrepreneurs out of an estimated $5 million pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges.

Anthony Tobin, 51, used networking Web sites to get e-mail addresses of potential victims and told them he had access to venture capital and arranged meetings to hear their business proposals, federal prosecutors said. As a precondition, Tobin charged non-refundable advances and fees, although he had no intention of providing any loans or financing to the clients, prosecutors said.

Joe Doyle, administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, said Tobin’s activities had been under investigation for years. “No matter how much and how long it takes,” he said in a statement, “we will pursue those individuals and do our best to see them brought to justice.”

The U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service were also involved in the investigation.

“Let this case serve as a warning to con artists who masquerade as brokers of funds and prey on entrepreneurs and small businesses in need of working capital,” Jeffrey Gilbert, special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Atlanta office, said.

Tobin is to be sentenced Oct. 8.

Two others are also charged in the scheme. Eyal Dulin, 39, of Snellville, remains a fugitive. Katherine Twigg, 47, of Hoschton, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on July 28.