Police in Texas are on the hunt for a man they say conned a company out of $20,000 for chicken feet and scammed an elderly cancer patient of thousands of dollars through a fake online romance.
Vanquil Marquis Jones, 26, was charged Thursday with one count of money laundering of more than $150,000 after the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said he allegedly negotiated a fictitious deal with a California-based company for 60 tons of chicken feet worth an estimated $20,000.
The investigation began in September 2018 when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Baytown Police Department, having traced the fictitious sale to a bank account based in the Texas county. It belonged to Jones.
The man shopping for the chicken feet wired $19,800 but after the money went through, he never received his order.
Baytown Police discovered, through the course of their investigation, that Jones scammed three more people, all of whom were over 60.
One victim, an elderly widow with cancer, told police she fell in love with a man she met online and sent him thousands of dollars. The money was sent to the same bank account flagged in the chicken-feet case.
Police were able to interview Jones, who is said to have admitted to owning the company that made the fictitious sale -- but authorities have not been able to locate him since.
“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. “There’s no doubt ... that if he can continue these online scams, he absolutely will.”