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For Nation's Scam Artists, Crime Really Does Pay

Fraud: Even when swindlers are stopped, victims can be left holding the bag. Southland is predators' capital.

April 20, 1999|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eight months later, while the case was still in the hands of the receiver, John Carroll, Cypers reported a robbery to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

At the time, he lived in an upscale Thousand Oaks home, where he kept a new Ford Explorer and a Corvette convertible and had access to a $30,000 bank account, according to Ventura County court records.

Property data show that the house where Cypers had lived for at least four months was owned by David S. Fisher, a Woodland Hills property lawyer listed in state documents as the contact for American Fortune 900, Cypers' firm. (Fisher did not return phone calls seeking comment.)

Cypers had no equity in his leased Explorer, which meant the receiver could not claim it. How Cypers paid for the lease remains unclear.

Cypers' bank account was in the name of another of his corporations. And the receiver didn't know about the Corvette until told of it by The Times, Carroll's lawyer said. The FTC said it has referred Cypers' debt to the Treasury Department for collection.

Howard Hamilton, a Tennessee horse trainer who lost $54,800 to Cypers' telemarketing fraud, isn't holding his breath.

"I'm not going to dwell on it," said Hamilton, 48, who received $1,600 as part of the FTC settlement. Hamilton also testified at the trial of two Cypers associates, who were convicted of fraud.

Not only did his financial loss end his family's chance of buying a new home, but "it jeopardized our whole lives," Hamilton said. "What would really make me happy is to get my money back."

* UNDERWORLD JUSTICE: Con man Rory Cypers found himself a victim of revenge. C2

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