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Prosecutors claim Ponzi scheme bilked investors out of millions

Some California residents might have been lured by the promise of robust returns in a debt reselling scheme that bilked hundreds of people out of millions of dollars according to federal prosecutors. A 14-count indictment unsealed on Sept. 19 in Maryland alleges that three men maintained lavish lifestyles with money that they told investors would be used to purchase portfolios of delinquent mortgage, student loan and credit card debt. The men face decades behind bars if convicted according to media accounts.

Prosecutors say that the elaborate Ponzi scheme involved 30 companies and 55 bank accounts. The men are alleged to have used $73 million of the $364 million they raised from investors to purchase luxury homes in Texas, Maryland, Nevada and Florida. The men are also said to have spent $35 million gambling in casinos and purchased dozens of luxury cars.

The men are accused of misleading investors about where the debt portfolios were being purchased from and how much was being paid for them. They are also alleged to have exaggerated their credentials and lied about putting their own money into the scheme. The indictment calls for the forfeiture of nine residences and 26 automobiles purchased by the men. Prosecutors also seek to seize a boat, several pieces of diamond jewelry and the part-ownership of a private jet. In a separate civil action, the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that the scheme's alleged victims include professional athletes, retirees, entrepreneurs and bankers.

Prosecutors know that complex fraud cases can confuse juries, and they may seek to settle them at the negotiating table to avoid taking risks in court. When their clients face serious charges and several defendants are involved, experienced personal criminal defense attorneys could pursue a quick plea agreement. This is because prosecutors generally offer more attractive terms to the defendants who cooperate first.

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