Debt Settlement Mastermind of MCA Industry Finally Caves, Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges
The mastermind that pioneered debt settlement in the merchant cash advance industry ended his career with a whimper last week. Sergiy Bezrukov pled guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering. Bezrukov has been in jail for two years awaiting trial, which had been repeatedly postponed because he kept on firing his court-appointed attorneys. Eventually the judge and the prosecutors had enough and advised him the trial would begin whether he liked it or not.
Evidently, Bezrukov did not like it. With the help of his fifth and last court-appointed attorney, he pled guilty to charges that will carry a prison sentence of 57 to 71 months.
During Bezrukov’s reign of terror, which began in 2015, he used at least 30 different business names (such as Corporate Restructure Inc.) and directed the processing and movement of funds through at least 10 different banks, federal agents alleged, while promising small business owners that he could reduce the cost of their MCAs or business loans by as much as 75% in return for a fee. Bezrukov carried out this scheme using several aliases, did not attempt to negotiate any debts, and pocketed the fees, leaving struggling small business owners in desperate situations.
Several layers of the scheme that deBanked uncovered, including his bizarre strategy of filing lawsuits in merchants’ names without their knowledge or consent and his attempt to legally shield himself behind Native American tribes, never resulted in any charges. Instead, prosecutors built a case around mail fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, simple concepts that a jury would likely be able to understand.
Mailers from Bezrukov advertised that businesses prequalified for a substantial reduction in their merchant cash advance debt and that it could happen in as quick as 6-12 hours with the help of his restructuring service. Why would someone believe it? Well because he claimed he was a debt counselor that had resolved debts over 40,000 times before.
The end result is that Bezrukov and several co-conspirators, who have also since pleaded guilty to their own crimes, managed to swindle more than a million dollars while constantly changing their names to cover their tracks.
Bezrukov agreed to forfeit assets seized by law enforcement officials including but not limited to $393,000 in cash he had hidden inside computer hard drives. This and other recovered funds became the subject of intense discussion with the judge in Bezrukov’s last court hearing before pleading guilty. During that proceeding, Bezrukov begged the judge to release all of that money back to him so that he could replace his lawyer yet again and hire big firms to defend himself. He did not realize that the funds were being held to partially repay his victims.Last modified: April 19, 2019