OKLAHOMA CITY – Three Oklahomans are accused of creating fictitious companies to divert at least $1.7 million in royalty and mineral interest payments from individuals who had accounts held in trust at Continental Resources Inc.
Charged in federal district court here were Casey Jobe, 37, and Anthony Hilbers, 38, both of Edmond, and Brandon Colbert, 39, of Oklahoma City. All three are named in one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; Jobe and Hilbers are named in one count of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of money laundering.
According to the indictment:
• Jobe was a division order analyst at Continental for two years, 2011-13, and was a principal of CMJ Properties and Investments. While employed at the company, which is owned by multibillionaire Harold Hamm, Jobe researched the ownership of oil and gas mineral interests related to suspended Continental accounts where the owners of the interests had died or for whom Continental had no current address or contact information.
• Hilbers was a principal of JNR Energy LLC, Puako Land and Minerals LLC, Peyto Properties and Investments LLC, BRC Energy LLC, and Three Sisters Minerals LLC.
• Colbert was a principal of Aztec Minerals LLC and XTX Minerals LLC.
• An unindicted co-conspirator identified as “CC- 1” worked at Continental until late 2015. While employed there, CC-1 researched the ownership of oil and gas mineral interests related to suspended Continental accounts where the owners had died or Continental had no current contact information.
The indictment alleges that starting about October 2013 and continuing through at least June 2017, the three men committed wire fraud by utilizing various corporate entities they controlled to obtain royalty and mineral interest payments from suspended accounts held in trust at Continental Resources.
Starting in late 2013, Colbert and Hilbers created several fake entities “for the sole purpose of funneling the proceeds of the conspiracy,” the federal government contends.
The government alleges that the co-conspirators “used their knowledge and access at Continental to identify specific mineral interest accounts that had significant suspended balances and could be fraudulently transferred with little chance of being discovered” because the rightful owners were dead or could not be found.
After identifying those accounts, the three conspirators allegedly forged fraudulent deeds “purporting to convey the mineral interests and royalties ... from the rightful owner to one of the entities controlled by the co-conspirators.”
The three co-conspirators filed each of the fraudulent deeds in the county where the producing property was located. The fraudulent deeds were submitted to Continental, which prompted the energy company to wire transfer the balance in the targeted accounts to the entities controlled by the co-conspirators.
Continental also wired routine payments to the fictitious companies “in the event the fraudulent deed was for a property that was still generating mineral interest payments,” the indictment alleges.
The government alleges that the conspirator who controlled the bank account that received the payment would divide the proceeds among his co-conspirators and transfer to each one “his share of the proceeds.”
The co-conspirators “forged and submitted at least 15 fraudulent deeds” to Continental, cheating the rightful owners out of at least $1.7 million in mineral interest payments, the indictment charges.
Besides the indictment, the government filed forfeiture proceedings to deprive the three defendants of “any property constituting or derived from proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result” of the alleged offenses.