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German fugitive sought in Florida fraud scheme arrested in Vegas

Steve Marcus / Reuters

A police car blocks the road Friday as federal and local law enforcement officials take artwork from a storage building in Boulder City, Nevada, in a seizure related to the arrest of German fugitive Ulrich Felix Anton Engler.

A German fugitive sought for five years in a Florida-based fraud scheme that netted more than $100 million has been arrested in Las Vegas, authorities said Friday.

Ulrich Felix Anton Engler, 51, was arrested for being in violation of U.S. immigration law, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

He is wanted on criminal charges filed in Mannheim and Hamburg, Germany, courts where he is accused of committing fraud on a repetitive and gainful basis, officials said in a prepared statement. If convicted, Engler faces up to 20 years in prison.

A fingerprint match from a Feb. 11, 2011, drunken driving case in which a Nevada Highway Patrol officer cited Engler, who may have used a different name at the time, helped U.S. Marshals track him down, The Associated Press reported.

“I hope Mr. Engler's victims in this case feel a measure of relief that Mr. Engler's fraud and long run are over and that he will soon face justice in Germany for his alleged crimes," said ICE Director John Morton.

The FBI and local police on Friday seized more than 1,000 pieces of artwork from a storage facility that Engler allegedly rented in Boulder City, about 25 miles east of Las Vegas.

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FBI Agent Patrick Turner in Las Vegas called the action an effort to recover proceeds on behalf of Engler's alleged victims.

Engler is accused of using a marketing company in Cape Coral, Fla., to build an Internet pyramid scheme. From June 2003 to December 2004, it collected almost $101 million from more than 3,500 investors in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, authorities said. Once the money reached the United States, investors lost access to it, they said.

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When the arrest warrant was issued in Germany, Engler was believed to have been living in Florida.

Last year, U.S. marshals and INTERPOL officials in Washington determined Engler was living in Nevada, where he was perpetuating his fraud schemes under a new identity, Joseph Miller, officials said.

He will be turned over to law enforcement officials in Germany, they said.

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press and NBC News' Jim Gold.


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