A Santa Monica man pled guilty to a federal fraud charge Friday for a romance scam in which he tricked women into investing tens of thousands of dollars into fake companies.
Antonio Mariot Wilson, a.k.a. Dr. Tony Mariot and Brice Carrington, 57, agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud Friday after acquiring a total of $387,000 from victims of his scam, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. He previously served a four-year term in federal prison for wire fraud and tax evasion after pleading guilty in 2009.
Between May 2015 and October 2018, Wilson met four women, some on dating apps including Bumble, and convinced them to engage in romantic relationships with him. He then proceeded to con them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the plea agreement filed Friday.
Among the women was 63-year-old actress Jenifer Lewis, who appears in television series “Black-ish,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He met Lewis at a gym where he worked as a manager.
Wilson used the money to fund his own lifestyle and pay off his credit card debt, pay his rent and buy luxury items, while hiding the fact that he had previously pled guilty for a similar scheme, officials said.
Wilson allegedly claimed to be a Navy SEAL, an Oxford University graduate and a UCLA professor. He relied on these false claims and on the intimacy he created with the women to get them to invest in his two sham companies: Ultimate FX, which he said was a sound design company, and 2nd Life, which he claimed was a software business for providing animated instructions to apply for government benefits.
He also claimed that ABC television network and EA Sports video game developer used Ultimate FX for their shows and games, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Additionally, Wilson used the identities of real people without their consent and claimed they were investors who had valued 2nd Life at $30 million.
Wilson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. A date for a hearing has not yet been set.