Wisconsin man indicted for alleged $35 million bank fraud scheme

A grand jury federally indicted a Wisconsin man for allegedly orchestrating a $35 million bank fraud scheme involving real estate investors. 

Prosecutors charged Matthew Thomas Onofrio, 31, of Eau Claire, with three counts of bank fraud for allegedly defrauding multiple federally-insured banks starting sometime in 2020 until August 2022.

Prosecutors say Onofrio operated Nothwoods Management LLC as a market real estate investing program for investors to acquire commercial properties.

According to prosecutors, Onofrio would loan money to investigators to make it look like the investigators had more assets than they really had. The money would later be returned to Onofrio – without the lenders' knowledge.

Prosecutors say Onofrio would also loan money to the investors to make purchases – telling the investors not to disclose this to the lenders – leaving the investors saddled with extra debt that the lenders were unaware of. The complaint also accuses Onofrio of altering purchase agreements to make the property appraisals appear higher than reality.

The indictment states in June 2021, Onofrio allegedly wire-transferred $3.25 million to an investor for a $9.7 million loan application to purchase property in St. Cloud. He also reportedly wire-transferred $430,000 to an investor in August 2021 as part of a down payment to buy property in Sauk Centre. In September 2021, Onofrio allegedly transferred $9.5 million to an investor to help support an application for a $24.24 million loan to purchase property in Elk River, according to the indictment. 

During the investigation, more than $35.745 million was seized from his account at Premier Bank in Rochester, court documents state. 

Onofrio made his initial court appearance on Nov. 23.