Georgia Man – Anthony Christou – Convicted of Massive Mortgage Fraud Ponzi Scheme!

Christou was a gambler, in more than one way. But every choice has a consequence! It is like the law of gravity. The bold statement above is factual – you will reap what you sow. The question is here – what will the final consequence be for Anthony Christou, age 57, who was just convicted on charges of wire fraud and money laundering relating to an investment fraud scheme.

According to a Department of Justice News Release:

“This defendant personally met with dozens of victims, telling each that he would use their money to underwrite legitimate mortgages. He knew at the time that he had no intention of using his investors’ money legitimately, but rather that their funds would be put to use in keeping a massive Ponzi scheme afloat,” said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias. “Mr. Christou racked up more than $29 million in fraudulent investment in just two years, a significant portion of which was diverted to his gambling activities. The jury’s verdict after only five hours of deliberation and the likelihood of a long prison sentence in this case should send a clear message that this type of fraud will not be tolerated.”

Note: Christou has been convicted but not yet sentenced.

Between January 2004 and January 2006, CHRISTOU, who was at the time president of his own mortgage company, “Atlas Mortgage Inc.,” engaged in a scheme wherein he and others acting on his behalf solicited individuals, including business associates, personal friends and members of his church, to invest with him. CHRISTOU informed his investors that he would use their money to underwrite safe and secure “bridge loans” for wealthy individuals who were selling a house and needed funds to use as a down payment on newly acquired real property or to assist real estate developers with their short term capital needs. CHRISTOU entered into short term promissory notes with his lenders, the terms of which were dictated by
CHRISTOU, to memorialize their investment.

CHRISTOU falsely represented that his investors’ money would be secured by his borrowers’ equity and would be repaid, with substantial interest, in a short period of time. Between January 2004 and January 2006, CHRISTOU took in more than $29 million from investors, purportedly to fund bridge loans. Instead, he used his investors’ funds to repay his principal and interest obligations to earlier investors and, unbeknownst to his later investors, laundered more than $7 million of their assets to fund his gambling activities at casinos in Nevada, Mississippi, and New Jersey.

So how can such a fraud be accomplished? Easy! First there have to be three components present for a fraud like this to work. As a white collar crime speaker, I speak to groups nationwide about ethics, fraud and how to avoid it in your organization. What gives me the credential – training and experience. As a former CPA – trained with a Masters in Accounting – I am also (regrettably) a white collar criminal – having been convicted and spent time in federal prison for a ponzi scheme just like the one shown above.

The components of the crime: Need, Opportunity and Rationalization! Obviously, Christou needed the money. He needed it to fund his addition – gambling – and pay off the former folks defrauded. As long as he could pay them off he could continue the scheme. It appears that he made his own opportunity by using his skills in sales to convince others to invest in him. Rationalization – well I can’t begin to speak to his mindset. In my case, however, I convinced myself that it was a loan and even set up fake loan documents to support that illusion.

You cannot avoid the consequence of the choices you make. Consider wisely your choices and know that – stated again – Every choice has a consequence.

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17 Responses to Georgia Man – Anthony Christou – Convicted of Massive Mortgage Fraud Ponzi Scheme!

  1. Joanne says:

    You know, I just have to say. Certainly not sticking up for someone who scammed people BUT, the people who were scammed were expecting an unrealistic (very high) return on their money. Do not tell me they thought all of this was on the up and up. The “victims” themselves are as much too blame. If I was told I would get 25% on my money in two months (or whatever short term), I would have to know it could not be legal. That or they are complete idiots. Franky, to have achieved that kind of wealth (the “victims”), they must be brighter than your average bear, Give me a break.

  2. Phyllis says:

    response to Joanne: This would be almost funny if this man did not use family and friends who trusted him with some with their life savings. Many on just his word.
    Sure they wanted to make money but no one thought for a minute he was doing this knowing he would not pay him back at the very least their initial investment. and your right for this to work some people who had been paid back had to exist. I think it started out on the up and up and turned into something he soon had no control over and thought he could win back!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know what the status of this case is???
    What is the fate of Tony Cristou???
    What about his family???

  4. dunwoody resident says:

    He was granted an extension as he hired a new lawyer. We hear he is scheduled to next appear in court August 2008. His original May and June dates were delayed.

  5. anonymous says:

    despite the allegations against this man, the court system is an effective tool in administering consequences for actions. Anthony Christou’s sentencing was today, where the judge recommended 20 years. It is justice served, perhaps, but a very sad time for the innocent people that will suffer – mainly, his children, who have had to endure enormous torment and taunts from people in the community. Although this man committed a crime, we must not forget the personal relationships that will be forever affected. Rather than condemning, perhaps compassion is more appropriate.

  6. anonymous says:

    correction – 9 years, must pay 14.3 million to investors.

  7. dunwoody resident 2 says:

    He was sentenced to 9 years and 9 months in prison. The guy scammed over 30 million dollars from people that trusted him to support his gaudy lifestyle. All of their children drove BMWs and he got in deeper than he could crawl out of. Personally, I don’t think he got enough time.

  8. Person with a HEART says:

    RE:dunwoody resident 2- sounds like you have life full of problems of your own so you might want to get on those instead of worrying about others. And make sure you get your facts straight before you open your mouth. And as far as a gaudy lifestyle, you need to get your eyes checked. The christous were far from GAUDY. But, they are full of GOD if that was your mistake. Something that you are CLEARLY lacking.

  9. amazed says:

    AMEN Person with a Heart. But they were GAUDY too!

  10. silver joe says:

    Looks like things are getting messy here.

    Fact: Tony drove a top of the line Lexus
    Fact: His wife a Porche SUV
    Fact: $40,000 two week vacation in Utah in December 2005, spending money right up until the end.

    They spent all of the money they could get there hands on.

    They are not sorry for what has happened, if they could do it again they would. That’s the way the scheme is designed. Fools and their money deserve to be seperated, right?

    Though I guess its OK if they are praising jesus the whole time.

    I am sure if Tony could do it again he would. The family spent more money in three years than I will spend in my entire life. Trust is a delicate quality. Tony will be reunited with his family in six or so years. The family I am sure took their nest egg with them to Tarpon Springs Florida. I am sure the kids will be fine. For $35 million dollars I am thinking I would ruin 130 peoples’ lives and sit in a federal prison for six years. Doesn’t sound like a bad deal. Has anyone foreclosed or gone bankrupt yet. These are problems Tony has created for innocent people. These are the reprecussions. Why are you defending them?

    You know you can’t get water from a rock!

  11. full of god says:

    Tony used jesus and god to get to some more money. SURPRISE! There all Greek by the way, you know the authors of christianity. Seems like nothing more than a big band of Gypsies executuing the tradional Ponzi scheme. If they had been atheists I bet this wouldn’t have happened. They have shamed their family, their church, their friends, and their religion. Maybe if we fill ourselves with god all the bankruptcies and foreclosures will go away, any thoughts?

  12. Person in the know says:

    Tony is conman pure and simple. Even at his sentencing he referred to his VICTIMS as Creditors. As he serves his sentence I beilieve he still does not understand what he did was not a mistake it was a CRIME. The Judge pointed all this out to him but I am quite sure that in his allegedly christian heart of hearts he would do this same thing over again and not even blink an eye. He ruined dozens of lives both financially and mentally and he should have received ALOT more time. They should have put him away and thrown away the key to keep this scum away from society.

  13. Phyllis says:

    I know the family personally, it wan not only a shock to his friends and family but a trust that will forever be broken, and may God Forgive him. For I know the lifes of the people he scamed will not.

  14. i have no heart says:

    im so glad he went to jail and he has to pay all that money back… people like him deserve to be locked up for ever.. worthless piece of…you know the rest

  15. redlillys6 says:

    I dated Tony when I was 19 years old, met his brother and his parents, nice people. He was addicted to gambling when he was 23 years old, and that’s why I broke up with him. He had a bookie at 23 and would bet on any sport. His addiction led him to greed and ruined so many lives. He deserved more jail time.

  16. Listen up says:

    I grew up with Tony’s kids. His youngest son is not only a hard worker, but an amazing person. What Tony did was 100% wrong but the family, or the kids for that matter did not know. End of story. His kids went through so much. You don’t need to be compassionate towards Tony, but his kids are 100% innocent. Back off.

  17. E says:

    Why don’t all of you with negative comments mind your own business. I can probably guess that none of you even know him or his family or for that matter anything about this case. Tony is the best person I have ever known and I know he will get through this.

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