URBANA, Ill. (WMBD) — A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted a California man and his companies for defrauding central Illinois investors out of more than $20 million.

According to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release, 37-year-old Brett Michael Bartlett and his companies Dynasty Toys, Inc. and 7M E-group Corporation have been charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.

Bartlett and his companies allegedly schemed to defraud investors by making materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, prosecutors allege.

The indictment stated Dynasty Toys and 7M E-group purchased items at liquidation sales and resold those items online. Bartlett accepted money from central Illinois investors to purchase inventory to be resold at promised annual returns of 20% to 40%.

Bartlett also allegedly dramatically overstated the success of the companies and lied about their assets to induce investors to invest. 1,000 people, including more than 50 from central Illinois, invested more than $20 million.

In May 2020, Bartlett mailed central Illinois investors millions of dollars worth of checks that bounced. Investors lost an estimated $22.5 million due to the fraud.

He faces up to 20 years in prison for each fraud charge and up to 10 years for the money laundering charge. Bartlett could also be fined $6.25 million, and the companies could be fined $27.5 million.

His arraignment will be held in Urbana’s federal courthouse on June 1.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Springfield Field Office and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General.