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Ponzi Schemes

June 15, 2001 | From Times staff reports
A Laguna Niguel man was convicted Thursday of bilking investors, most of them elderly Orange County residents, out of more than $10 million by selling them practically worthless oil and gas partnerships. After deliberating for two days, a U.S. District Court jury in Santa Ana found Lance Van Alstyne, 34, guilty of engaging in a Ponzi scheme from 1992 to 1994. "As Ponzi schemes go, this is a medium-sized one," said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
May 30, 1985 | From the Associated Press
There may yet be hope for all those disappointed people who had wanted to make a million dollars raising earthworms. Think larvae farms. As in: "Grow Rich With Silk-Spinning Moths." Or how about growing fungus for use in exotic cosmetics? For those too sophisticated for such come-ons, there's always room to play around with mass-market tax shelters, or high-tech stocks or even designer jeans.
An Orange County couple who lost $207,646 in an alleged oil lease scam several years ago have won a $2.6-million court judgment against the defunct Huntington Beach investment companies that ran the telemarketing operation. Ronald and Joan Grosse of Garden Grove won the judgment against Beacon Energy Inc. and Beacon Income Fund XVIII. The two companies, however, are subsidiaries of Pacific Coast Financial Services Inc.
November 19, 2003 | E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer
Federal authorities arrested four members of an Inland Empire family and a Florida man Tuesday on charges that they swindled $160 million from evangelical Christians around the country, funneling much of it into offshore accounts and spending it on homes, a yacht and a helicopter. The five allegedly ran a so-called affinity scheme, in which con artists prey upon the sympathies of groups bound together by ethnic, religious or other ties.
January 31, 2004
Little has changed since Charles Ponzi dreamed up a postage stamp speculation scheme that made the businessman fairly rich and left thousands of New Englanders fairly angry. Lured by the promise of 40% returns when banks were offering a mere 5%, investors knocked greedily on Ponzi's door -- dumping $1 million into his lap during a single three-hour session in 1921.
July 31, 1990 | HARRY ANDERSON
Ah, Southern California. The sun, the palm trees, the beach. The defense procurement fraud, the savings and loan theft, the telemarketing scams. Right under our sunburnt noses, the Southland has become the nation's capital of economic crime. And, befitting our reputation for setting trends, we haven't settled for old-fashioned Ponzi schemes and investment gyps.
State securities officials warned investors Tuesday about the increasingly pervasive practice of religious "affinity fraud" schemes that have racked up millions by preying upon victims' beliefs in God. In the last three years, con artists in 27 states, including California, have taken advantage of at least 90,000 investors, regulators said. Deceived investors have lost more than $1.8 billion, according to authorities. The admonitions from the North American Securities Administrators Assn.
May 21, 1991 | DANIEL AKST
It's like the "Twilight Zone" without Rod Serling, so picture this in shadowy black and white, shot at a nervous angle. The old-fashioned phone rings and the caller, an attorney, calmly explains that his client has information about a major fraud against your company. When you show up at the appointed hour in a Mountain View conference room, you find yourself among 30 other anxious company representatives, and what you hear is horrifying.
October 11, 2006 | E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer
A former Cal State Fullerton baseball star who hired Steve Garvey to promote his mortgage company has agreed to plead guilty to an investment scam that raised more than $30 million, authorities said Tuesday. From 2000 until this year, Salvatore "Sam" Favata, 46, promised investors returns of 30% to 60% a year, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.
February 5, 2004 | E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer
When a financial advisor told Georgia state authorities about the money manager who was guaranteeing his clients returns of 18%, alarm bells went off. It was the spring of 2001, a year after the stock bubble burst, and the promise just sounded too good to be true. As they learned more about the Orange County man touting his investment prowess, James P. Lewis Jr., regulators in Atlanta became increasingly suspicious.
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