He promised to double their money. But in reality, it was a multi-million dollar scam that cost them every penny they had and more.
"I borrowed $75,000. Four months later he gave me a check for $150,000," explained fraud victim Steven Beeler.
Steven and his wife Kristine Beeler said they couldn't believe they had doubled their money in a few months. They then had to decide if they should invest again.
"I tried to convince my wife. She was very apprehensive about investing that much money, I thought maybe a little bit more for a little longer time," said Steven.
The couple decided to borrow against their home and make another investment with Jim Pantazelos and his firm Destiny's Partners. Months passed and they received no check, so Steven called.
"Then he quit talking to me. He refused to take my phone calls. That's when I really started getting worried. My wife invested her 20 years of her retirement in it. I invested $100,000 plus what we had in our house," Steven explained.
Their total investment was $411,000.
"I had such apprehension about borrowing the maximum that they would allow us to borrow on a house. You know when you need to listen to your gut? That was one time that I should have been more forceful," explained Kristine.
"I literally cried so hard I collapsed because we had lost everything that we had… and all of a sudden we find out there is an investigation going on and our hearts just sunk," explained Steven.
To make matters worse, Kristine lost her full time job and her parents had also invested with Destiny's Partner.
"My Mom is now 84 years old and she lives from hand to mouth compliments of Jim Pantazelos, so people get hurt in these things and it isn't fair, it isn't right, and even if they had given him life in prison, for the rest of our lives, we will always be his victims. I refuse to allow Jim that much control," said Kristine.
Pantazelos was sentenced to more than nine years in federal prison for operating the Ponzi scheme. Postal inspectors say this scam cost thousands of victims more than $4 million dollars. They advise anyone considering investing to do their research.
"If the investment is a sound investment, the opportunity will still be there for you to invest, after you've had the chance to do your research and do your due diligence to find out about the company," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Schissler.
"If the returns are probably more than industry standards or more than you could dream, it probably is a nightmare," warned Kristine.
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