Investing in real estate can be a sound investment. So when investors heard they could make a 12 percent return on their money by investing in a business that was buying and then quickly selling houses, hundreds signed up.
The problem: Inspectors say Donald Lacey, the former police officer who pitched them, wasn't trying to make "them" money.
"What Mr. Lacey didn't tell his investors was that the money was going to three entities under his control and he took the money for his personal use," said US Postal Inspector Meredith Newman.
Postal Inspectors say Lacey's investment scam cost more than 200 people over $9 million.
"That money was spent, once again on homes, vehicles, boats things along those lines," said Newman.
Authorities say Lacey used his position as a former police officer to cheat people around him.
"Mr. Lacey was highly regarded in the community. The people he solicited from were people he knew very well based on his reputation," said Newman.
Lacey pleaded guilty to mail fraud and engaging in illegal transactions with money. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Inspectors say it is important for investors to do their due diligence before investing any money. If you believe you are a victim of fraud related to a Ponzi scheme, or any crime related to the U.S. Mail, call 1-877-876-2455 or you can file a complaint online at www.usps.com/postalinspectors.
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