PHILADELPHIA -

An Allentown man has been charged with wire fraud in connection with an investment and loan scam, federal officials said.

An indictment was handed down Monday in federal court against 44-year-old Joseph Paul Beck of Macungie and Allentown.

Court papers shows Beck created a 'shelf corporation' called Washington Integrity, Inc. in 2011 to market on the internet. Officials said the corporation had no business except to funnel money from his scheme into his control.

“Shelf corporations” were corporations that had been created some years before, but had never engaged in any business and were corporations on paper only.

According to officials, Beck told potential buyers -- who were people and businesses who were unable to get funding from ordinary financial institutions -- that he could get them loans substantially greater than any available to them from commercial institutions, if they would buy a shelf corporation from Washington Integrity.

Beck's alleged victims were defrauded of $171,000.

Beck falsely told customers that his profit in the transaction would come later, after loans had been funded, from a percentage of the loans he succeeded in acquiring for them, court papers said.

Meanwhile, Beck used a substantial amount of the money to acquire real estate, to pay mortgages, personal credit card bills, grocery bills and other personal expenses, officials said.

He faces eight counts of federal wire fraud and one count of aiding and abetting.

If convicted, he faces a maximum possible sentence of 120 years in prison, restitution of $171,000, a $2 million fine and forfeiture of any proceeds of the fraud scheme.