Wind turbines in Utah. (George Frey/Bloomberg )
Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.
Mormons targeted – The Securities and Exchange Commission has accused several Utah residents of operating a Ponzi scheme that victimized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a Dec. 29 lawsuit filed in federal court in Utah, the SEC alleged that Joseph Nelson and his associates targeted investors at church functions, telling them they could double their money if they invested with Nelson’s companies. The scheme took in about $16 million between June 2005 and June 2010, the SEC said. Instead of investing the money as promised, Nelson allegedly used investor money to pay returns to early investors and to pay salaries for his employees.
Home repair – Homeowners should be careful when choosing contractors to perform home repair, the Better Business Bureau said in a recent news release. Of particular concern, the BBB said, are contractors who knock on the door and say they’ve noticed a defect—missing roof shingles, for instance—that they'll fix for a small fee. Often, these contractors are unlicensed and have left behind a trail of angry, dissatisfied customers. To avoid being taken advantage of, homeowners should check contractors’ licenses online. It is also advisable to check references or use a contractor who has previously worked for a friend or family member.
Wind energy – A Carson man has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for bilking investors out of more than $1 million by making numerous false statements about a wind-energy business he said he operated. James A. Rivera, 42, told victims that his companies, Apostles Inc. and Almighty Wind Inc., would market wind turbines and that the Nigerian government had agreed to place a $1-billion order. In reality, there was no such order and the companies never sold any turbines. Rivera also failed to disclose to investors that he had eight prior criminal convictions, including five for fraud.
Scam watch: Bank theft, e-books, mortgage mods
Scam watch: Computer virus, Ponzi scheme, BBB email
Scam watch: Discount electronics, holiday cons, telemarketers