KNOX, Ohio (WJW) — An Ohio man has been sentenced to prison in connection to a scheme to sell fake hunting leases.
Court documents say Nathanal L. Knox, 30, is accused of placing online ads for hunting leases, supposedly available on several parcels of land in Ohio, that he had no rights to sell, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The release says he placed the advertisements on at least 38 different Facebook pages, including “Hunt Florida,” “Ohio Hunting Lease,” “Bow Hunting PA,” and “Alabama Deer Hunters.”
In the ads, Knox allegedly charged anywhere from $400 to $5,000 for the fake hunting leases and requested payment be made through PayPal, Walmart 2 Walmart, Money Gram, Western Union and Venmo, according to the DOJ.
The release says he solicited payments from at least 68 different individuals, who all reside outside of Ohio, with at least 59 of them sending payments to Knox, totaling over $34,000.
Knox is sentenced to one year and one day in prison, three years of supervised release and restitution of $18,037.
“The defendant’s crimes were deliberate, detailed, and harmed a great many people,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. “His actions not only defrauded the unwitting individuals who fell victim to Knox’s lies, but also created a potentially combustible mixture of hunters who believed they had the right to be on these properties, and the landowners, who had not given permission to these individuals to access their property. Luckily, law enforcement partners halted this scheme before anyone was injured.”
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, investigated the case.
“Protecting sustainable hunting of America’s wildlife resources is bedrock to our mission in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Assistant Director Edward Grace of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. “Investigating those who prey on individuals attempting to hunt lawfully by defrauding them is our trusted responsibility to the American people.”