Before you sink your hard-earned money into any investment, US Postal Inspectors are warning you to check it out thoroughly. Unfortunately there are too many victims who learn the hard way.
"We were shocked and surprised," said Daria Lisco, a victim of investment fraud.
Lisco and her husband lost more than $20,000 in an investment their neighbors first told them about.
"A nursing home investment and the returns were pretty good – maybe 8% and we decided we would invest money in that – because it was a good deal," she said.
For months, the Lisco's were content as the investment appeared to be making money.
"One of the things about it is that he went through a legitimate company and checks were coming from that company so it wasn't like you think this is a scam," said Lisco.
Yet, it was a scam. To be exact, it was a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by a former financial advisor.
"They were usually his own clients, so he knew who to approach," said US Postal Inspector Daniel Forrester.
Postal Inspectors say the suspect created the fictitious nursing home investment. More than 13 victims invested $10 million.
"The product did not exist. He used their purchases of the product to return interest payments to the client to keep the scheme going," said Forrester.
Not all the money went into the Ponzi scheme.
"He diverted 80% to his own accounts and 20% to make interest payments. If you met the guy he seemed like the nicest guy in the world. He was always flaunting money around," explained Forrester.
"I would ask him how he could take advantage of people and a friend, how could he live with that taking money and spending it lavishly on himself," said Lisco.
Postal Inspectors emphasize that it's important to thoroughly research any investment opportunity before you actually invest. In this case, the suspect was indeed who he said he was, a licensed financial advisor, but the product he was supposedly selling was not real.
The suspect in this case did plead guilty to first-degree money laundering and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
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