Dave Williams Fraud Story Is One for Grifters Everywhere – Even the Vanguard Could Learn From Him

J, David Williams got millions from investors offering them big money to be part of star-studded films.

Frank Report reported on James David Williams, who met the Vanguard at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) – and then proceeded to bilk $500,000 from his supporters for a film about NXIVM.  The film was never made.

Dave Williams

Fellow Inmate of Raniere at MDC Gets Into Hot Water By Not Disclosing $500K He Got to Make NXIVM Film

NXIVM Spokesman ‘We’re Not Pressing Charges’ Against Dave Williams’ for $500K – Say Feds Went After Him to Shut Down pro-NXIVM Film

Williams’ troubles began back in 2016 when the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York brought charges against him and two of his associates, Steven Brown and Gerald Seppala.

Prosecutors called it an “advance fee scheme” and the main victim, Billy A. Busbice, Jr., lost $11 million.

Busbice was host of Wildgame Nation on the Outdoor Channel and owns a hunting equipment company, Wildgame Innovations, and 55,000 acres of hunting ground in Louisiana.

Billy Busbice 

Back in 2012, Williams told Busbice he was working on the production of feature-length movies and documentaries. Among them were “The Letters” about Mother Theresa.

Other purported projects included “Angels Sing,” a Christmas-themed feature film starring Harry Connick Jr. and Willie Nelson and “Left Behind,” a reboot of the religious science fiction series, with Nicolas Cage.

Williams informed Busbice he had millions in the projects, but that more money was needed to bring them to fruition.  To prove he had money in the deal, Williams provided bogus bank statements, showing millions in bank accounts, when, in reality, there was nothing in them.

Williams would create documents and said the investments were guaranteed by Woodlawn Holdings and named the managing partner, a man who did not exist.

In 2013, Busbice invested $500,000 in “Made in America,” $6 million in “Letters,” $2.4 million in “Left Behind” and $2 million in “Angels Sing” – about $11 million total. Other investors put in millions more – and why not? – there was a guaranteed return on the money [from a guy who didn’t existl] and these three  – Williams, Brown and Seppala –had millions of their own money in the deal [but that money existed only on fake bank statements.].

Gerald Seppala

Now, with real millions from Busbice in their bank accounts, Williams, and to a lesser degree, Brown and Seppala, were off to the movies.

Before he could start investing in these movies, Williams had a few things to take care of first.

He bought an $87,825 Jaguar, made a down payment on a $3.5 million home in Calabasas, made payments on a yacht, went over to Louis Vitton and dropped $4,000, and $5,000 at Neiman Marcus, paid club memberships, made ATM and debit card withdrawals of $214,000, and another $89,394 withdrawal to pay down loans on his residence and boat; $37,658 in payments for his child’s private school tuition; a $22,354 payment for a time-share property, and tens of thousands of dollars on family vacations, hotels, restaurants and car rentals with a preference for Hawaii.

By the time Williams [and partners] took care of vital expenses, they had nothing left to invest.

In 2014, Busbice sued Williams and partners won an $8 million judgment. Because all the money had been spent on essential luxuries, Williams and partners could not pay a dime of the judgment.

In 2016, the FBI arrested the three men, Williams in Los Angeles, Brown in NYC, and Seppala in Wayzata, Minnesota. They were charged with wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy. Williams and Brown were charged with also charged with laundering the proceeds of this fraud.

Preet Bharara

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Bharara said: “With lies about making feature-length films and documentaries, the defendants allegedly defrauded victims into investing over $12 million with them.  Rather than making movies, the defendants perpetrated an advance fee scheme, allegedly using the investors’ money to pay themselves and pay other investors back.”

Facing prison, Williams, the leader of the conmen, told the feds he wanted to reform, come clean, confess his sins, and never sin again as long as he lived. He made a deal to inform on his partners, which, to hear Williams tell it, were far guiltier than he.

In September 2017, Williams pleaded guilty to wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and money laundering conspiracy.

Freed on bail while awaiting sentencing, Williams expected to be treated leniently for making a slam dunk case against his former partners.  Unhappily for Williams, the feds discovered he had not been forthcoming about his role in defrauding investors.

Williams apologized profusely.  He said he learned his lesson. He asked the feds to let him continue to cooperate and nail his cheating partners who virtually forced him into defrauding Busbice and others.

The feds agreed to let him cooperate, but Judge Kimba Wood was less considerate.  In April 2018, she ordered Williams locked up at MDC until he was sentenced.

NY Times photo of Keith Raniere

As luck would have it, there was a new prisoner arriving at MDC shortly after Williams took up residence there: Keith Alan Raniere. Raniere was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and racketeering charges that included underlying acts of possessing child pornography, extortion and identity theft.

The two men were able to enjoy each other’s company at MDC from April to mid-December 2018 – which was when Williams went before Judge Wood for sentencing.

J. David Williams
At sentencing, a reformed sinner, Williams told the judge, “Your Honor, I stand here in front of you a much different man than the man that stood here in front of you on July 21st, 2016. I have changed. This system has changed me. And I ask you for the ability for me to prove that to you by my actions moving forward from this point.”

Because he cooperated with the prosecution, because he repented, and because he told a story of how he was largely innocent even though he devised the plans and got most of the money, Williams was sentenced to time served – and probation. He was also ordered to make restitution to Busbice and the other duped investors. He walked out of prison that day.

Meantime, one of his partners he informed on, Steve Brown, was sentenced to more than five years in prison and is still in prison.

Out on probation, a changed and repentant Williams was doing well. He told his probation officer he landed a job. It did not pay much, a mere thousand per week, but it was doing something he loved. He was working for Universal Yacht Management and had a great boss, Henry Marker, who was V.P. of Operations.

Williams provided emails from Marker, as well as an address and telephone number for Universal Yacht Management in Miami.

A website showed that Universal Yacht Management was “an accredited management company” providing “virtual and shore-based superyacht management services,” with a team that “includes veteran yacht management coordinators, captains and engineers whose collective experience is unmatched.”

Sure, he was struggling to make ends meet, but Mr. Marker liked his work and there was a future for him, after all. Williams was part of the Universal team.

As it turned out, he was the entire team. The phone number for Universal was to a phone Williams owned and the Miami address was of a provider of virtual office services, which had no record of Henry Marker or Universal Yacht Management.  Williams created the website for Universal. He paid for the domain name with his wife’s credit card.
All of this was unknown at the time to his probation officer.
Williams used his fake employment at Universal Yacht Management to get permission to travel – and to hide his true financial situation, he submitted fake paychecks, drawn on the same Bank of America account he had used to commit film-financing fraud.

Meantime, without bothering to tell his probation officer, he persuaded NXIVM followers to hand him $500,000 for a sure-fire hit documentary he would make about them and the injustice of putting a good man like Raniere in prison.

With $500,000 in hand, while pretending to his probation officer that he was working for Universal Yacht Management for $1000 per week, Williams was ready to make a NXIVM movie, but first, he had to take care of a few personal expenses. He spent $168,000 on his boat and marina expenses, used $52,000 to have some pocket cash in hand, spent $50,000 to pay credit card charges and car payments, $18,000 for a luxury apartment in Tempe, Arizona for his children, $11,500 in payments on a second car, and thousands at Costco, airline tickets, hotels, tuition to his child’s private high school and other vital necessities.

He also paid $11,900 back to Busbice and other investors – out of the $15 million he owed.

Then one day Williams decided to visit Hawaii. Williams told his probation officer that it was part of his job at Universal Yacht Management.

This made the feds suspicious. After all, Hawaii was his favorite luxury vacation spot. They looked at the documents Williams produced to probation. Prosecutors soon learned Williams concocted the job, invented the company, and created his supervisor, the elusive Mr. Marker.

This time Judge Wood was not so sympathetic. She remembered the man who once expressed remorse for his crimes, when with teary eyes he said, “I fully accept the responsibility for my actions. I will accept the sentence from this Court, and I will strive my hardest and commit to my fullest to work honestly to pay restitution to my victims and lead a law-abiding life.”

This time Judge Wood said, “After I was lenient with you when I first sentenced you, you purposely violated important conditions of supervised release just four months after I sentenced you.”

Then last week, she sentenced him to 18 months in prison for violating probation.  Moments after, US Marshalls approached Williams, slapped handcuffs on him, and led him out of the courtroom.  It is unclear what prison he was assigned to or what film projects he will be working on next.

Williams IMDb page



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Frank Parlato


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  • I need to speak to Judge Wood also, because Williams is doing something to my Bank Of America Account!…. I’m here in California and I really need some type of advice on this man…. On my account I have -45.25
    -4.95 and so on….

    Please Email me….

  • Mark Hildreth finally made a public statement about NXIVM, never mentioning Vanguard or Kristin Kreuk

    Mark Hildreth
    A brief comment on nxivm. Over several years, I participated in what I understood to be personal and professional development seminars offered under the umbrella of the nxivm organization. I met a number of people who seemed dedicated to personal growth and improving mental health. Following legal proceedings that commenced subsequent to my time there, I learned of coercive and inhumane behaviors that had evidently been occurring in secret. I am deeply disturbed by what came to light and embarrassed by my former association with this organization. I hope that all of the survivors are able to heal and move forward from what was a horrendous betrayal of trust.

    • The way I read it – AFTER the court cases then Mark Hildreth finally woke up.

      But when? How long after the trials? Yesterday? The day after the verdict? If so – why wait so long to finally comment?

      Glad he woke up tho however long it took.

      • He tweeted Sunday: 5:38 PM · Dec 26, 2021·Twitter for iPhone

        Maybe his subscription to The Knife of Aristotle expired three years ago and he just heard the news.

    • During his 12 years in Nxivm, Mark spent six of those years in Kristin — she at least deserves a mention. Does Mark think she was part of the “horrendous betrayal of trust” or merely a high-ranking but unknowing innocent like him?

  • This is all a calculated plan by keith; Dave was just a pawn and was railroaded by ol’ vanguard.

    keith was able to get people to spend their money to make this phony movie, and then watch it get pissed away by a man keith knows to be a con. The man then ends up in prison. There can be no doubt that part was intentional by keith, too. It’s all too predictable man. If keith can find a way to destroy you, he will do it.

    So keith started playin’ this motherfucker from day one, because he knows a target when he sees it. I am certain he is laughing about it right now.

    Everything that keith does is to torment, humiliate, and destroy. Everything. That lesson should be clear by now and I don’t know why people keep falling for it and can’t recognize it. vanguard just can’t help himself. It’s the frog and the scorpion with him.

    • I think you are onto something, Ice-nine.

      It’s interesting how many times these so-called Warriors for the Incarcerated and Fighters for Justice Reform have managed to get multiple prisoners into even more trouble both inside and outside of the prison system.

      It’s difficult to believe how incompetent “We are as you” and “Make justice blind” are in action – so your theory that it’s malicious & intentional failure actually makes more sense.

      Vanguard must be directing them and enjoying the results of ruining people’s lives further from behind the wall.

  • Thanks for posting this and allowing an open debate.

    I don’t trust blogs that don’t allow free speech. Blogs that don’t even allow any content are the worst. They are pure tribal bias.

  • Anticultists live in the delusion that they are more moral, more rational, and way more intelligent than the people they persecute in “cults”. Cultists are beneath them in so many ways.

    As a result, I’m sure that many of the anticultists here can write more eloquently, and with more real personal experience, than Nicki Clyne can.


    Merry Christmas, retards.


    • “Anticultists live in the delusion that they are more moral, more rational, and way more intelligent than the people they persecute in “cults”. Cultists are beneath them in so many ways.’

      No they don’t.

      For one, there is no such thing as an “anti-cultist” except in the perspective of a few people compared to the majority, relatively speaking — those like you. Second, only extremists are stunted by a perception often tainted by a black-and-white fallacy, and the fact that you constantly describe the “other” as anti-cultists in your false conflation of mainstream society with the former shows that you are among them.

      The “anti-cultist” moniker is obviously reactionary and created by those who are part of groups that have certain attributes or use certain methodologies that classify them as deleterious according to an alleged rational standard since the concept encapsulated in the modern term “cult” has been considered a pejorative with such meaning. If a so-called “cult” was not such, then it would simply deny the label, not create terminology that would try to reflect the negativity back onto those using it by inverting the term.

      The fact of the matter is that NXIVM was a destructive group to many people, mostly due to the behavior of its leader(s), some of which was illegal. Just because there are Squeaky Frommes or Nicki Clynes of the world, or laypeople who use the term “cult” nonchalantly to dismiss others in non-mainstream groups, doesn’t deny this fact

      • Did you get one of those Ronco WordSalad Shooters for Christmas, too?

        I love mine!

        The only sentence I understood in your post was this one:

        “The fact of the matter is that NXIVM was a destructive group to many people, mostly due to the behavior of its leader(s), some of which was illegal.

        Amen, bra


    • I agree. Many of the people on this blog can write more eloquently and with more real personal experience than Nicki Clyne.

    • Thank you for posting this video. This is inspiring. Clyne is genuine and empathetic, unlike so many NXIVM critics who play the victim and put on a show of ethical concern as a ploy to promote their money making podcasts, videos and books.

        • Bet ya ten bucks “Anonymous” is Nice Guy. Only a failed alcoholic househusband who lives in Arlington, MA with a cottage in Buzzards Bay, and has 2 mothers, would use the term “Bagina”.

          I’m turning over a new leaf, Frank.

          Come January 2nd, I’m not going to call anyone any names any more. I’m not going to criticize the anticult hypocrisy and tribal idiocy I see here – nothin.

          No more “Shitra Turd”s. No more “blind retard”s. No more “Anonymous Fucktard”s.

          New man, Frank!

          January 3rd.


          • Hold it.

            I’ve checked my calendar and I have a meeting on the 3rd. So that’s out.

            Let’s circle back on this one next week. But pencil me in for some time around the 15th.

            No more name-calling, no more criticizing The Stupid here.

            New man!


  • Con men depend on two things: people’s greed and their confirmation bias.

    People are eager to believe. Especially eager to believe in something that will bring them good fortune and / or piles of money.

    This is why so many people fall for get-rich-quick scams. All critical reasoning flies out the window and confirmation bias takes over when presented with that “golden opportunity”.

    That’s how Dave Williams worked his scam. Exploiting his marks’ greed and ego. Chance to make a lot of money! Big Hollywood movie! Stars like Nick Cage! Chance to get in on the ground floor! Opportunities like this don’t happen every day!

    Raniere’s scam worked the same way. Executive Success was mostly about making money. How to Succeed In Business. His marks (“students”) believed Raniere had a sure-fire way to success ($$$) via his patented “tech”. They WANTED to believe.

    So they ignored all the red flags. (It’s amazing how many of them reacted to their first intensive by thinking “this is kind of culty”, yet stuck with it). They did so because of confirmation bias.

    People tend to ignore evidence that challenges their beliefs. And will believe the shakiest evidence that confirms them.

    The way to fight confirmation bias is through critical thinking. And critical thinking involves CONSTANTLY CHALLENGING YOUR OWN BELIEFS.

    It doesn’t mean challenging the other guy’s beliefs. We already do that. That’s how Raniere taught critical thinking. And it’s completely wrong. That’s just feeding your own confirmation bias.

    • You’re generally right there I think, Sausage. But in this case, you are giving Dave boy too much credit. He’s an idiot and a fuck up, and he’s in jail because vanguard thought it’d be fun to put him there. This is all one big fuckin’ setup.

      There are only two ways Eduardo (and the dead-enders) could have come to hire this guy:

      1. Dave approached Eduardo – either on his own by being familiar with the case or keith asked Dave to contact Eduardo.
      2. Eduardo approached Dave – this would also have to be at keith’s behest, otherwise how in the hell would Eduardo or anyone else for that matter even know who this Dave guy is? He’s just some schmuck conman.

      In either case, they needed keith to sign off on it. There’re thousands of filmmakers out there they could have hired. But they hired this guy and there’s only one person who could have made that happen. Because Eduardo ain’t doing jack fucking shit without keith’s approval.

      So keith gets to watch people piss their money away and as a bonus send some schmuck to jail. All in a day’s work for vanguard.

  • Hey Frank!

    Why are you still locking up Patriot God in a virtual prison and not releasing his comments?!

    You said that you would and now you’ve shown yourself to be a lair! Can you please do what you actually said and make it a top priority to post all of his posts up BEFORE you publish another stupid article like this and actually keep your word for once?! Nobody gives a shit about this kind of crap! Many of your readers have been waiting to see Patriot God’s responses to other people and other things he’s said that you haven’t posted for weeks! I come on here more to read his words rather than yours! Please stop being a pain in the ass and actually do what you said and post his comments so he will come back! We all miss and love him and because of how incompetent you are to handle the comments section, he has left Frank Report!

    This is absolutely ridiculous how long you’ve taken to do this and now you’re probably not even going to do it, despite promising that you would! Why can’t you just stop moderating people’s posts and get a new message system that allows you to post, edit, reply, and delete at will?! Nobody else does this type of shit, Frank!

    Quit halting and delaying our free speech!





  • Hmmm. JDW is a snitch too. I don’t see the dead-end Nxians (and others) lambasting him for being a rat. Like they have Lauren.

    Sounds like the hunter got played by JDW appealing to his faith – with religious movie content. That’s pretty cynical and shows JDW is a decent observer of his marks. And zeros in on their vulnerability/values.

    Presumably, JDW targeted Keith’s ego and the dead-enders’ desperation. Plus, all of their magical thinking…

    JDW was clever to pitch movies that were realistically low budget and D list.

    JDW is a frenetic spender and poor planner. His recent sentence is still very lenient. There is a very high probability of him re-offending. He’s probably running a scam from lock-up right now.

    I think it is uproariously funny that the dead-enders have made JDW a martyr.

    • JDW was not charged with any new crimes regarding his latest con-job. So, the judge was limited to sentencing him for parole violations (The 18-month sentence is likely all that was left of his original 3-years of probation).

      • Thanks, KRC.

        Do you know what the sentencing guideline would have been for JDW if the dead-enders pressed charges?

        And…Do you think that the financer(s) of the desired v movie is/are actually more protecting a full reveal of who’s money JDW squandered rather than this ridiculous “the feds are just shutting down our movie” rhetoric?

        Because someone would have to be named as the victim in JDW’S Nxivm movie grift, right?

        I am guessing they didn’t want a full financial disclosure etc. Especially with the civil trial looming etc.

        But who knows? Ha ha.

        Thanks, again.

        • JDW ran his scams for over 20 years. A search of the court records goes back to the early `90’s. He does everything through 3rd party entities that he creates to camouflage the money trail. He is a very smart psychopath, who, incredibly, can remember all his lies and recount them.

          One of his earlier victims even committed suicide after being left financially destitute. Williams’ response was to laugh and say he had probably done himself a favor because he was obviously emotionally unstable to begin with.

      • On the topic of hiding income from the government, I think you are more of an expert than anyone here could possibly be.

        Where do you think Williams made his biggest mistake?

        How would you have handled it differently?


        • No one should help people with potentially criminal intentions better plan and carry out their deeds.

          Those who are honest do not need advice on how best to commit crimes.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato


Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com