CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois man who defrauded friends and family out of more than $6.5 million has been sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle sentenced Henry Meyer on Wednesday. Meyer, 47, pleaded guilty in October to mail fraud for defrauding investors through a phony investment program for more than seven years by misrepresenting the return on their investment.

Meyer "created a web of lies so strong" that he convinced friends and family to invest in a European Derivative Investment Program, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil R. Harjani wrote in court documents. Meyer instead used the money for personal expenses such as restaurants, groceries and clothing, Harjani said.

Authorities said Meyer also created a plan to leave the United States for a country without an extradition treaty to avoid capture.

Federal prosecutors described him as "one of the most brazen con men to have been prosecuted in this district."

Meyer grew up in Mount Prospect but ran the scheme from Florida. He targeted many of his relatives, including his parents. The investors were mostly elderly people in Illinois and Wisconsin, according to prosecutors.

"It's hard to imagine a financial fraud scheme more egregious than one that defrauds a defendant's parents, uncles, aunts and cousins," prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum.

Meyer received credit for 25 months in custody and must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. He's also been ordered to pay $6.5 million in restitution, according to spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.