EUGENE — A court sentenced a Corvallis man to 30 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $1.75 million in restitution to the victims of his investment fraud scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon reported Wednesday.
Erik J. Hass, 53, in February pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud after a federal grand jury in June 2020 returned an eight-count indictment.
According to court documents, in January 2013, Hass founded Simply Grains Inc., an organization he claimed supported Christian missionaries and organizations while offering significant returns for investors.
Hass solicited members of his church, co-workers and other acquaintances to invest in the organization via self-directed retirement and cash accounts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release. In exchange, he gave investors unsecured promissory notes and promised compounded annual returns of up to 30%.
Hass also claimed he would only profit from the investment scheme if monthly returns were higher than 2%, the release stated. Yet, from the start, Hass began taking a salary drawn from investors’ funds and used the proceeds to pay for personal expenses. Throughout the scheme, Hass sent investors account statements showing fictitious gains and account balances and false IRS 1099-INT forms.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Hass continued accepting investments well into 2018, knowing he could not honor his investment claims. Instead, those new investments were used to fund Ponzi payments to older investors who had requested withdrawals from their accounts.
In total, at least 20 investors reportedly lost more than $1.75 million combined investing in Hass’ scheme.