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January 19, 2010 | By Harriet Ryan
For would-be sugar daddies perusing SeekingMillionaire .com -- "the meeting place for wealthy and beautiful singles" -- there was much to like about profile #160127. "Bree" identified herself as a 23-year-old model from Newport Beach, and the accompanying photos showed an emerald-eyed beauty with a mane of silky brown hair and a wraparound smile that seemed both sexy and sweet. "Just looking for Mr. Right," her brief self-description read. If the pictures -- one in a backless dress at a party, another in a clingy halter top -- seemed somehow familiar, a quick Internet search offered an explanation: Bree Condon, 23, of Newport Beach was a successful model and aspiring actress who'd done a Guess jeans campaign and posed for Maxim magazine's swimsuit issue.
November 20, 2009 | By David Kelly
Three Riverside County businessmen and four associates were criminally charged Thursday after prosecutors said they sold false investments and committed grand theft in a scheme that bilked clients of $17 million and left many broke. "The schemes . . . collected tens of millions of dollars and victimized both individual investors and financial institutions," U.S. Atty. George S. Cardona said at a news conference in Riverside. "Using storefronts across the Inland Empire and numerous phone lines assigned to their shell companies, the schemers misled banks into believing that prospective borrowers had significant assets, when in fact the schemers were engaging in a mortgage fraud shell game built on lies to both their investors and the banks."
November 5, 2009 | Martin Zimmerman
A Westlake Village man was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for bilking California and Texas investors out of more than $44 million. Curtis D. Somoza and co-defendant Robert Coberly, also of Westlake Village, were accused of collecting $64 million from investors with guarantees of easy returns, and then using much of the money to buy luxury homes, cars, yachts and jewelry. "This was an orgy of self-indulgence," U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz said Tuesday before imposing the sentence on Somoza.
October 9, 2009 | Nathan Olivarez-Giles
The California attorney general's office sued a group of Los Angeles-area individuals and their operations, alleging they ran illegal schemes that siphoned more than $3 million from small San Diego County businesses. In three lawsuits filed Thursday, the state accused eight individuals and their companies of duping the businesses in separate scams by sending official-looking mail warning them of consequences if they failed to pay fees promptly. The fees sought ranged from $150 to $250, according to the suits.
September 29, 2009 | Stuart Pfeifer
In what federal prosecutors described as the longest sentence ever imposed for a financial crime in Southern California, a Riverside County man was sentenced today to 100 years in prison for operating a three-year Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of about $35 million. Richard Monroe Harkless, 65, who ran the scheme from 2000 to 2003 through a company he called MX Factors, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips in federal court in Riverside. In letters to the judge, victims of the massive scheme said they were forced to file for bankruptcy protection, put off medical operations or postpone retirement as a result of their losses.
September 9, 2009 | Associated Press
A federal judge Tuesday sentenced Silicon Valley financier William "Boots" Del Biaggio III to more than eight years in prison for bilking investors and banks -- including one he helped launch -- out of millions of dollars in a desperate attempt to buy a pro hockey team. The disgraced scion of a prominent San Jose family is to report to prison in January, capping a long fall for a former high roller who counted hockey great Mario Lemieux as a golfing buddy and who jetted on private planes to Las Vegas, where he amassed a $4-million gambling debt.
July 2, 2009 | Jim Puzzanghera
The recession has killed jobs by the millions, but it's been a boon to one sector of the population: con artists. They've been offering consumers help in repairing bad credit, landing new jobs, starting lucrative work-at-home businesses and obtaining government money to pay off bills. These scams -- which are surging along with the jobless rate -- are touted on websites and infomercials, and have bilked consumers out of hundreds of millions of dollars, said David C.
May 16, 2009 | Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Beverly Hills hedge fund manager Bradley L. Ruderman surrendered to FBI agents Friday after being criminally charged in federal court in Los Angeles with bilking investors out of about $44 million in a wire fraud scheme. Ruderman's surrender came two weeks after a federal judge shut down his hedge funds, Ruderman Capital Partners and Ruderman Capital Partners A, in response to a civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
April 29, 2009 | Stuart Pfeifer
Orange County money manager Danny Pang, accused this week of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars, was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents on suspicion of evading currency reporting laws. According to an affidavit, the FBI focused on a series of check-cashing transactions at the East West Bank branch in El Monte. Pang's aim was to convert cash to gold bullion, which he tucked away in a safe concealed in a bedroom closet, the affidavit said.
March 3, 2009 | Bloomberg News
A contractor who pleaded guilty to bilking the Pentagon out of more than $20 million during a nine-year fraudulent billing scheme was sentenced Monday to six years in prison and ordered to repay $15.5 million. Charlene Corley, 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Margaret B. Seymour in Columbia, S.C. Corley also was ordered to serve three years of court-supervised release.
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