HOUSTON- The Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Baytown Police Department are looking for a Baytown man charged with money laundering after he conned a California company out of nearly $20,000 for 60 tons of chicken feet and scammed elderly women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Vanquil Marquis Jones, 26, is charged with one count of money laundering, more than $150,000 but less than $300,000.
“This investigation revealed how this one individual was able to wreak havoc on the lives of several people from the comfort of his home, behind a computer,” Assistant District Attorney Keith Houston said. “Financial crimes are very complex and can take months of investigation, but we will not stop until we find him and hold him accountable.”
Local authorities started the investigation when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office reached out in September 2018 regarding a complaint from the owner/operator of “Triple Stars Trading, Inc.” The owner told authorities he was shopping online for chicken feet for his company when he came across contact information for “Tyson Food International” (a separate entity from well-known Tyson Foods Corporation.).
The owner reported he contacted Tyson Food International and negotiated a deal with an individual by the name of “Michael Lamson.” The owner agreed to pay a down-payment of $19,800 for 60 tons of chicken feet that were to be delivered to the Los Angeles-based company. However, after wiring the money and never receiving the shipment of chicken feet, he became suspicious and contacted Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. Their investigation led them to a Baytown Bank of America.
The “Tyson Food International” Bank of America account belonged to Vanquil Jones. “Lamson” was only an alias. Baytown Police confirmed through bank records the defendant indeed received the $19,800 and withdrew all funds from the account within a week of the wire transaction.
Through the course of their investigation, Baytown Police Department identified three additional victims who had a combined total loss of $211,653. The victims, ages 64, 65, and 67 were all targeted online. One victim, an elderly widow with cancer, says she fell in love with a man she met online and sent him thousands of dollars. The money was sent to the same Baytown Bank of America account that belongs to Jones.
Baytown Police were able to conduct an initial interview with Jones in which he confirmed he owns/operates “Tyson Food International,” which he claims is a catering business. Jones admitted he chose the name because it sounds similar to “Tyson Foods Corporation.”
When officers attempted to interview Jones again, he stopped cooperating and was unable to be located.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office Financial Crimes Division, alongside the Baytown Police Department continue to investigate Jones and ask the public to contact authorities if they know his whereabouts.
“There’s no doubt in mind that if he can continue these online scams, he absolutely will,” said Houston. “We’re hoping someone can come forward to help us locate him.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).
Ebony C. Fleming
Harris County District Attorney’s Office