Scammed by so-called friends, family

Victim recalls how he was lured in, taken advantage of

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Robert Hollins says one of his friends lured him in into a foreign currency investment opportunity that promised generous returns.

"It all appeared to be legitimate," said Hollins. "The pitch I got was because it was foreign exchange, they could make money regardless if the dollar went up or down."

The two men running the investment promised returns as high as 20% or 25% and investors saw that to be true in their monthly reports.

"You get a false sense of security when you are getting monthly statements showing earnings. I should have realized that there were no months with losses, that should have been an absolute red flag," admitted Hollins.

The notes, the monthly reports along with the investments themselves, they were all part of a fraudulent scheme.

What's worse is 50 of the victims, who lost more than a million dollars, were all friends and family of the ring leaders.

"They were not only hit financially, many of them lost their life savings but they were also hurt by the fact that they were taken in by someone who meant so much to them," explained US Postal Inspector Jason Crowe.

"I defended him with vigor until it finally dawned on me it was a scam," said Hollins. "I just couldn't believe it  because I trusted him and I trusted what he told me, because he hadn't given me any reason not to trust him."

"They lost homes, they lost businesses and they lost the opportunity to have the retirement they planned on having," added Crowe.

Postal inspectors say consumers must research all investments, no matter who's behind it. Hollins already has a new approach.

"I am invested with some big name companies and I personally think it's a much safer route than dealing with individuals," he said.

Both suspects in this case were charged with conspiring to commit fraud and face 2 to 3 years in federal prison.

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