• Jacksonville movie producer indicted for $5 million Vystar fraud scheme

    By: Russell Colburn , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A Jacksonville man is accused of using his position at a local credit union to steal more than $5 million by buying and selling stamps.

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    Federal prosecutors say it took 64-year-old Duane Sikes 10 years to slowly take all that money from his employer, Vystar Credit Union.

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    Sikes’ IMDB page says he has produced 85 movies and TV shows since 2007.  A source tells Action News Jax he was constantly spotted at film screenings and festivals.

    Neighbors had no idea he was allegedly hiding a big secret.

    “I think he lives a pretty modest lifestyle,” said neighbor Brandon Jones.  “There’s relatively normal house, normal cars, normal family visits, I would have never guessed that there was going to be anything lavish coming out of there.”

    According to the 15-count indictment, Sikes worked at Vystar’s corporate headquarters in Jacksonville from 1994 to 2017, and was issued checks to purchase postage for the Pitney Bowes postage meter.

    Instead, court documents say he used the money to buy stamps at a local post office.  From there, investigators say Sikes would ship the stamps to the wholesale division of Mystic Stamp Company in New York, which would issue Sikes checks for the proceeds. 

    The indictment states they paid him nearly $3.7 million from 2007 to 2017.

    “You never know who lives next to you,” Jones said.

    U.S. marshals arrested Sikes in downtown Jacksonville, where they say he was meeting with his lawyer.
    Action News Jax dropped by two addresses linked to Sikes on Shirley Avenue, but no one came to the door at either place.

    Vystar sent Action News Jax this statement on the case:

    “Upon our discovery that a former employee had defrauded the Company during his employment, VyStar immediately conducted a more comprehensive internal review, reported the matter to authorities and is cooperating fully with their investigation. Importantly, this isolated incident did not in any way compromise member personal information or accounts, and is immaterial to the Company’s financials. VyStar does not tolerate behavior that is contrary to our culture and high ethical values, and has taken immediate action to address the situation and even further enhance our internal processes.” 
     

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