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Indiana man pleads guilty in fake credit union case

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An Indianapolis man has pleaded guilty to a Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors through a fake online credit union.

Sixty-three-year-old Timothy J. Coughlin entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

According to a statement of facts, from around 2006 through March 2014, Coughlin operated the Oxford International Credit Union. Prosecutors say 5,000 investors from 50 countries and all 50 states made deposits to the fake credit union totaling almost $15 million.

Authorities say Coughlin stopped allowing withdrawals from accounts in 2009, falsely claiming that the United States and Canada were freezing Oxford's assets abroad.

As IBJ reported in April, Coughlin tried to bring a 20-story balloon ride to White River State Park in 2008.

An Indianapolis resident between 2007 and 2009, Coughlin conducted his Internet fraud using a company known as Oxford International Credit Union, which in fact was not a credit union, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a suit filed in April in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The fradulent firm also went by Oxford International Cooperative Union.

The SEC said Coughlin misappropriated at least $5.97 million in investor funds, including $1.57 million used for personal expenses.

Another $4.4 million went to pay investors who requested withdrawals.

The agency said Coughlin also transferred money to two Indianapolis firms. One was American Quality Cleaning Services, which purportedly protected individuals’ personal information. Coughlin was president of that firm, investigators said.

The other firm receiving money was Avocalon LLC, which provides services to those involved in political advocacy. Coughlin was registered agent of Avocalon.

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