Guy Embezzles Cool $9 Million From Poop-to-Energy Ponzi Scheme

CH4's website as it appeared in 2019, via Wayback Machine.

CH4’s website as it appeared in 2019, via Wayback Machine.
screenshot: gizmodo

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A man embezzled nearly $9 million by convincing investors he was turning cow poop into green energy—and then built none of the machines at all.

On Monday, 66-year-old Raymond Brewer of Porterville, Calif., pleaded guilty to charges that he defrauded investors. Court records show that Brewer stole $8,750,000 from investors between 2014 and 2019 with promises to build anaerobic digesters, or machines that can convert cow dung into methane that can then be sold as energy, at dairies in various counties in California and Idaho. But rather than build any of those machines, Brewers spent them on things like New home and new Dodge Ram pickups.

according to Office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of CaliforniaBrewer was Prolific fraudster. He took potential investors on tours of dairies where he said he was building digestion machines and sent fake documents where he signed agreements with those dairies. When investors asked how things were going or for updates on the construction of the digesters or how the digesters worked, Brewer sent “fake construction schedules, fake invoices for costs related to the project, fake power generation reports, fake recordings and fake photos, as well as fake contracts with banks and fake international investors.” It must be awesome in Photoshop!

Part of the scam’s appeal was what are known as Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which are credits issued by the federal government that certify that renewable energy has been produced at a site; These credits can then be sold to companies looking to offset fossil fuel emissions. Brewer told his investors that he would receive 66% of all profits from these credits.

Five years is a long time to promise money to people and not deliver – that’s why in the United States.s. The attorney’s office described Brewer’s setup as a “Ponzi” scheme, because he began paying off old investors with money he was swindling to new investors. When investors began to doubt, the US.s. Brewer moved to Montana and assumed a new identity, said the attorneys’ office. He was He is finally caught in 2020.

Some Brewer profiles, CH4 Energy, are still active in business directories such as Pitch book and food waste resource site ReFED. The company was even a topic About her “work” In the local Visalia Times-Delta newspaper in 2016 He was part of a 2013 LA Times story on dairy farmers and renewable energy.

in Los Angeles Times storyBrewer quotes Dairy farmers’ reluctance to install digesters.

Brewer said he tested his system in other states, such as Wisconsin and Idaho, before shopping with dairy farmers in California, who he said were very skeptical. Times Books. He signed his first contract with [a farmer]-Brewer remembers talking about anxiety. That was a bit of an exaggeration.”

Our friend Ray wasn’t completely nonsense – excuse me – in promoting his ideas. Anaerobic digesters are real machines that actually convert animal waste into energy, and millions of dollars of federal and state money have been spent on the technology. However, questions remain about Just how “green” this energy is And Whether it is worth the investment.

Brewer will be sentenced in June and faces up to 20 years in prison.


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