RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Nearly two years after 8News first approached suspected scammer Justin Godsey, a man who said they were longtime friends and briefly even worked together is speaking out.

Emmett Roberts said that he lost hundreds of dollars to Godsey, but was primarily concerned for those who may have lost even more. The Henrico County man was arrested by federal authorities last week and charged with fraud and money laundering.

“He should be held responsible,” Roberts said Thursday. “You’re messing with people’s lives, their paychecks. You’re messing with people who have who, like I said, they’ve grown up with you and they think they’re helping you.”

8News previously investigated complaints against Godsey in his capacity as the proprietor of e-commerce sites Godsey Supply LLC and Sneak Foot in 2021. At the time, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving Central Virginia said that they had received more than 7,000 inquiries and 450 consumer complaints regarding Sneak Foot.

Roberts said that he and Godsey first met in middle school.

“We were very close,” he said. “We hung out quite often.”

Over the years, though, Roberts said they grew apart, but would continue to interact on social media.

“About the end of 2021, he actually sent me a message and was like, ‘Hey, man, I’m going through some stuff with some competitors on my website,'” Roberts said. “He’s asking if we were willing to leave reviews, help him manage reviews and delete reviews, and in turn, he would pay us.”

Roberts told 8News that Godsey explained the reviews were being left by bots and not actual customers. But soon, Roberts said he noticed the reviews were too specific to be illegitimate.

“One I saw was one review by two brothers who were overseas, and they said that they had bought a couple thousand dollars’ worth of shoes,” he said. “There’s a little thread someone had made and they’re like, ‘Does anybody know who actually owns this company? I’ve called this number, I’ve called this, I’ve emailed these people. I’ve sent letters to this. No one’s responding.'”

Roberts said his access to the review management portal was restricted, and that he never received payment from Godsey. He also said that in spring of 2021, he reported his suspicions to local police, but investigators did not follow up with him. 8News reached out to police in Richmond and Henrico to confirm this information. Richmond Police public information officials have not responded, while a spokesperson for Henrico Police said that there were no records of this kind.

Screenshots from Facebook Messenger provided to 8News showed an individual who appears to be Godsey reaching out to individuals in a Godsey Investments group, asking for investments in amounts “as little as you’d like, and you’re almost guaranteed to make your money back.” More recent screenshots showed people asking for their money back, and someone who appears to be Godsey responding, “I’d appreciate if you not make things public unnecessarily.” Additional screenshots showed Godsey sending a partial refund. But when the individual requesting a return on the money they had given wrote, “I want all of it,” Godsey said, “Kick rocks loser. Don’t message me again.”

“He’s messing with companies overseas. He’s telling them that he’s got money he doesn’t have; he’s got products that he doesn’t have. He doesn’t supply them,” Roberts told 8News. “He takes the money and runs, and then, when the people finally catch up to him because he’s slowing down, that’s when he finds someone else to get money from to pay those people back, and then, he tries to circulate it.”

Federal money laundering penalties may include several years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines or two times the value of the laundered funds. Godsey was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday, but the court appearance was continued to Thursday, May 18.

“He was doing shady stuff. It wasn’t a joke,” Roberts said. “People are questioning him about their investments and he blocks them.”

In a recent social media post, Godsey wrote:

I won’t be posting on Facebook for some time as a personal choice, however just know that I am okay and focusing on resolving a handful of issues that have come up in my life from around 2-3 years ago. I have confidence it will be settled easily and is likely spun in a way thats a long throw from reality. Unfortunately it’s not always the complete truth that gets clicks and views. That being said, I appreciate the kindness and feel closer to my family and friends than ever before.

I’m an honest and accountable individual and am working hard on setting things in order for myself one step at a time, as I have been for years as I develop in my life, same as all of you. If you have anything to discuss with me, feel free to message me but I may choose to not divulge a lot of information and appreciate having my space respected. I’ve spent time with, interacted with, and enjoyed many of you for over a decade now, and even have had the pleasure of working with many of you.

Through the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), Godsey was ordered, as a condition of his release after arrest, not to be employed in any “sale of goods or services via on-line marketing or e-commerce.” However, according to Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC), Godsey is listed as the owner/agent for TomiKing, a site for selling “authentic, rare #DieCast collectibles.” The Instagram page for the retailer has continued to make posts since Godsey’s arrest, even writing Thursday, “Our only issue is that our customer service (via email) sucks in terms of response times. We can blame broken inboxes all we want (however yeah that does happen) but it’ll get better and that’s our number one focus.”