Four Arrested in Tempe Help-Wanted Scam That Defrauded Arizona College Students

Twelve Arizona college students were suckered out a total of $118,000 two years ago in an elaborate scam involving alleged con artists posing as potential employers.

The real losers, though, seem to be the four men who were arrested this morning by special agents of the Arizona Attorney General's Office following a multi-count fraud indictment.

Brothers Aaron and Matthew Blodgett, along with their two "associates," Zoran Vuckovic and Damir Karadascevic, face charges of conspiracy, conducting an illegal enterprise, fraud, theft, and securities fraud. The Blodgett brothers also have been charged with the sale of unregistered securities, transactions by unregistered dealers and salesmen, and money laundering.

From May 2012 to December 2014, operating out of at least one office on Baseline Road in Tempe, the suspected fraudsters lured the college students in with legitimate-looking help-wanted ads on Craigslist for clerical and administrative jobs. They used company names, including U-Invent, Outreach Development, and Egroup Promotions. They even registered some of the companies as limited liability corporations to help fool anyone who tried to research them.

The victims were all 20-something men and women, who mostly lived in the metro Phoenix, says Mia Garcia, spokesman for state Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Some were Arizona State University students. The office declined to put New Times in touch with any of them, saying "we still have to prosecute this case."

When the students responded to the fake companies' ads and went to their office, they were subjected to a fake interview and "told they needed better credit to get the job," according to the AG's office.

The men behind the scam had a solution for the students: All they had to do was take a bank loan and give their new employers the proceeds. The company representatives said they "would repay the loans and help improve the victims' credit [and] provided the victims with fake pay stubs and scripts of what to tell the banks."

Naturally, the loans weren't repaid. When they went into default, "the victims' credit scores deteriorated," the AG's office says.

The students collectively lost more than $118,000 in the fraud.

In 2011, Aaron Blodgett also owned a disreputable solar-power company called Greenovated Energy that reportedly stuck numerous angry customers with unpaid bills.

Below: Some of the company names used by the alleged scammers, and the 15-page indictment:

U-Invent, LLC
Outreach Development, LLC
Motivational Weight Loss Friends, LLC
Egroup Promotions, LLC
Society Improvement, LLC
Tailgaters Designated Drivers, LLC
Blodgett Management, LLC d/b/a The Washington Financial Group