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Authorities Capture Con Man in Florida
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Wolas Beachcomber

Summary: A man with many aliases was captured by police in Florida after he defrauded investors out of $1.5 million in Massachusetts and other charges.

Investors know him as Eugene Grathwohl but his legal name know by the courts is Scott J. Wolas. Police arrested Wolas in Delray Beach, Florida for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He has also gone by the names of Allen L. Hengst, Frank Amolsch, Drew Prescott, Cameron Sturge, and Endicott Asquith. Investigators allege that Wolas raised $1.5 million from 19 investors for what they thought was the purchase and development of the Beachcomber across from Wollaston Beach in Massachusetts. They believe he is responsible for Ponzi schemes in three different states that have amounted to over $100 million.

  
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Wolas told the investors the money was to be used to restore the development in what the U.S. Attorney’s office described as a Ponzi-type scheme. He also faces unrelated charges of fraud and grand theft in New York. In New York and Orlando, authorities state that the 67-year-old went by the name of Allen L. Hengst in order to pose as a stockbroker in Florida. In this role, Wolas was able to defraud over $6 million from clients.

Wolas originally started out as a lawyer in New York. In 1996, he was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for a connection to $20 million in fraud. Before the investigation could be concluded, Wolas went missing the following year and remained a fugitive until now. The New York Bar disbarred him in 1999 and his law firm allegedly settled a lawsuit from 20 investors for $6 million.

Authorities believe Wolas worked as a real estate agent from 2009 to 2016 for Century 21 in the quaint town of Quincy, Massachusetts. He ran a business known as Increasing Fortune which he used to raise money to purchase and develop the Beachcomber property, including the addition of a single-family home adjacent to the property. He promised the investors 125 percent of the profits from the single-family home construction. Upon closing day in 2016, Wolas was gone, last seen as at a JFK/UMass train station. The bank account where the investors’ funds were placed had been emptied to pay for his personal expenses.

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Wolas could face 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss for the wire fraud charge. For the aggravated identity theft charge, Wolas faces two years in prison with one year of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The Beachcomber was a landmark club on Quincy Shore Drive that was forced to close its doors after nearly sixty years in business. A variety of performers have been known to play at the popular music venue, including Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, and Jay Leno. The owners sold the Irish club to new owners, who plan to demolish the building in order to make way for a new high-end restaurant.



Do you think Wolas should receive the maximum sentence? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about con artists, read these articles:

Photo: fugitive.com

Beachcomber Photo: boston.cbslocal.com



 

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