, 2022-11-26 04:33:21
By the time he was 23, J. Nicholas Bryant was living a version of the cartoonishly opulent lifestyle he always wanted.
Social media posts from that time depict the bright-smiling Texan riding private jets stocked with vodka, enjoying steak dinners on yachts, and lounging in five-star hotel rooms.
Bryant was originally from a small city dependent on the oil industry, and friends told The Daily Beast that he was popular but always seemed to be in trouble. But by the start of 2020, just before the pandemic struck, his posts took a content pivot to make it appear like he had struck gold.
“It looked like he was living the high life,” Hayden Eggemeyer, one of his childhood friends, said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “And all of us from home were just watching this unfold in awe, asking each other how he was doing it.”
This month, federal prosecutors gave Eggemeyer and his friends an answer: Bryant fleeced at least 50 people in an elaborate scheme that involved booking goods and services and then sending fake payments through online payment platforms. On Nov. 9, Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in a scheme prosecutors have described as reminiscent of some of the most infamous scammers in American history. He is now awaiting sentencing, where he faces up to 20 years in prison.
If he’s hoping for leniency, he may still have work to do when it comes to demonstrating something resembling contrition.
In his first time speaking out about his swindling…
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