Aurora man charged with swindling investors

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 An Aurora man has been charged with swindling $228,000 from investors hoping to purchase several convenience stores in the Chicago area, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Maheskumar Desai, 51, of Aurora was arrested and charged with felony theft. He faces up to fifteen years in prison if convicted.

According to prosecutors, Desai and his victims met through Chicago’s Indian American Community. In December 2005, the defendant solicited them to invest in two 7-11 convenience stores he was allegedly building in Plainfield and Aurora. Over the next three years the defendant accepted funds totaling $78,000 to complete their construction.

In 2008, Desai told his victims that the opportunity had arisen to buy an existing 7-11 in Lincoln Park and obtained an additional $150,000 from them. Early last year the defendant told the victims he was having difficulty negotiating the store’s purchase and was redirecting their investment toward a different store in the 200 Block of East Ohio. Desai told the victims that he was unable to complete this purchase because of difficulties he was having obtaining a liquor license.

The victims contacted investigators who learned that the 7-11 Corporation had never granted Desai permission to build the stores in Plainfield and Aurora. Investigators also learned from the owner of the Ohio Street store that he had never put his store up for sale and had also never met the defendant. A further review revealed that the defendant had spent the victims’ money on personal expenditures and to gamble. Records obtained from local casinos found that Desai has sustained $1,000,000 in gambling losses in recent years.

The victims never received any of their funds back from Desai.

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