A Las Vegas man suspected of defrauding local elderly residents out of millions of dollars in a real estate investment scheme was arrested Wednesday at McCarran International Airport.
The suspect, known by the aliases Jamal Eljwaidi and Jean Marc, was taken into custody by U.S. Customs officials upon his arrival from London about 4 p.m. The secretary of state’s Securities Enforcement Division will handle the case.
An arrest warrant was issued for Eljwaidi on May 14. He faces six counts of elder exploitation on allegations that he defrauded local residents of at least $600,000, including $400,000 from a resident with diminished mental capacity.
“We suspect there has been much more taken (from Las Vegans),” said Pam duPre, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state.
Investigators said Eljwaidi’s scheme involved offering high-interest payments for investments in his projects, including a shopping center next to his offices at 8820 Russell Road, near the Las Vegas Beltway.
The shopping center project was described in advertisements as a “Monte Carlo-style, open-air plaza on 9.23 acres” and was to be constructed through Eljwaidi’s companies, Babuski LLC and JKG Development. His advertisements claimed that ground would be broken in 2007, but no construction has taken place.
After investigators with the Securities Enforcement Division searched Eljwaidi’s offices June 23, more potential victims were discovered, the secretary of state’s office said.
The scope of Eljwaidi’s activity stretches well beyond Las Vegas, the spokeswoman said.
“We’re talking about $50 million that was given to him from people around the world,” duPre said. “We can’t be sure how much he actually gave back (to investors), but that’s a huge number.”
A news release from the secretary of state said information seized probably will lead to more charges.
Eljwaidi, appearing calm and subdued, declined to answer questions as he was escorted in handcuffs from the airport.
Eljwaidi’s arrest warrant had been posted on the National Crime Information Center, used to detect the movement of suspects, according to the release.
It isn’t clear whether Eljwaidi turned himself in to authorities or whether he tried to sneak into the country.
A status hearing is scheduled for Friday at Las Vegas Justice Court.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283.