PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Temple University graduate was sentenced Tuesday to more than two decades in federal prison. Troy Wragg pleaded guilty earlier this year to coaxing investors out of tens of millions of dollars in a sham company that claimed to turn garbage into energy.
The 37-year-old Wragg was able to rip off investors out of $54 million over just four years. Prosecutors say the admitted conman squandered much of the money on lavish trips, expensive cars and even a record label.
A music video from Mantria Records is just one of a slew of bogus businesses prosecutors say were funded by the professional fraudster.
“He’s a liar, everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie,” Oliver Buckley said.
Buckley said he and a group of friends handed over $120,000 after Wragg claimed to have created an online dating app called Luvr. Wragg convinced the investors he was about to sell the app to AOL for $10 million, but the deal never existed.
“He made it seem like we had the best dating app. There was nothing like it out there on the market. The idea was great,” Oliver said.
But prosecutors say Wragg pulled off his biggest con just after he graduated from Temple University in 2005.
In the four years that followed, Wragg admitted to swindling more than 300 people out of $54 million, supposedly for his green energy company called Mantria Corporation.
It was so acclaimed that former President Bill Clinton recognized the company’s work of turning garbage into clean energy at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative.
But prosecutors say Mantria Corporation was a big Ponzi scheme that preyed on elderly people.
“They were coaching people to not only empty their retirement accounts but to take out home equity loans, credit card loans, other forms of loans business,” U.S. Assistant Attorney Rob Livermore said. “Many people lost their entire life savings and then some.”
At the federal courthouse Tuesday, Wragg told the judge he considered investors his friends and he was sorry. But the judge didn’t buy it and sentenced him to 22 years in federal prison.