Stephen Lee Turpin Guilty of Ponzi Scheme. No Business Ethics Here!

Every choice has a consequence.  As a business ethics and white collar crime speaker, I address groups every day who elect to be reminded about this fact.  In this case, Stephen Lee Turpin, of Pearland, Texas has been sentenced to the statutory maximum penalty for his involvement in multiple “Ponzi” schemes which resulted in over $2 million in losses to several individuals.

Turpin, 53, was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison, the statutory maximum penalty, for conspiring to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Turpin was convicted in May 2007 after pleading guilty to the charge.

In the scam resulting in the highest loss to an individual investor, Turpin, 53, convinced a Pearland woman to open a bank account in Zurich, Switzerland, and to then transfer $1 million from that account to a bank account for the supposed purpose of participating in a “high-yield European bond trading opportunity.” There was no such investment opportunity and Turpin netted $800,000 of the $1 million, which he used to purchase two houses and to support an extravagant lifestyle.

In addition to the $1 million loss in the “European bond trading” scam, between March 2003 and March 2005, Turpin convinced several other individuals to invest sums totaling over $1 million in various other fictitious enterprises, including entities allegedly engaged in entertainment promotion, the sale of novelty items at music venues, the construction of donut shops and the sale of flashlights in China. Turpin was able to continue obtaining investors in these wide-ranging fictitious enterprises by obtaining funds from new investors and providing a portion of those funds to prior investors with the representation that they were profits from their investment. Turpin was not in fact engaged in any legitimate business opportunities and was simply scamming those he approached with these “investment” opportunities. Turpin executed his “Ponzi” scheme between [dates] and targeted investors in the Houston area.

The question for this blog is what motivated the behavior?  While I am not proud of it, I, too, was guilty of a ponzi scheme.  For a fraud to exist there must be three components: (1) need; (2) opportunity and (3) rationalization.  In my case, “need’ existed due to too much debt.  I was over extended and underfunded.  Perhaps, in retrospect, the need started from something much deeper.  My guess that this is likewise true in Turpin’s case.

In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore ordered Turpin to pay over $2.1 million in restitution to the victims of his fraudulent schemes. Lastly, Judge Gilmore ordered Turpin to forfeit several assets purchased with fraudulently obtained proceeds, including two houses and a 2003 BMW Z-4 Roadster. The United States Marshals Office is in the process of liquidating those assets for purposes of making those funds available to the victims.

Turpin, who has been in custody since April 2007, will remain in custody to serve his sentence.

For those who were duped by Turpin, perhaps you’d be kind enough to share how he convinced you to participate in his scam.  Likewise, if you know Turpin, perhaps you’d share something about his background.

23 Responses to Stephen Lee Turpin Guilty of Ponzi Scheme. No Business Ethics Here!

  1. Brian Foley says:

    You should have mentioned steve turpins past incarceration in Texas prison system and why it didn’t reform him any.

  2. Jim says:

    I had the opportunity to discuss investments and stock strategies with Steve while he was incarcerated in Huntsville. Highly intelligent man with regard to financial and investment strategies…just a shame he must use fraud schemes.
    As far as the above comment for reformation? This guy possesses plenty of skills to be reformed…..he chose the “fast and furious” lifestyle. Prison is for punishment……reform is a choice.

  3. Roxann Allen says:

    This man has been in prison three times now for his scams. There will be no reformation for him, he just doesn’t get it. He has never worked an honest day in his life, yet he is always, at some point, getting caught in his deceit. I know the guy, he’s the scum of the earth. His only concern in life for him is himself. If he cared about anyone, he would have not so deeply hurt the people around him, including his parents and causing divorces and messes, just so he could drive a nice car and have a house. Scum bag!

  4. John Rydek says:

    If you did the research you would know that Mr. Turpin in fact took the fall for someone else. That is more than honorable. He kept his mouth shut. Mr. Turpin is being forced to serve more that his five years. His release date is not until February 2014. Because the powers that be are not giving him credit for the time he served fighting his case, he has to serve that plus another five years. That is a serious issue.

    Mr. Turpin is an honorable and just man. Sure he is an capitalist and entrepreneur but that is the very foundation of our great country. Turpin was put in jail because of a bad economy and individuals jealous of his great business acumen.

    • Julie Weller says:

      John, are you in a relationship with Turpin? The bullshit you have mentioned above could only be stated by someone who has completely lost touch with reality and is in total denial of the facts. Steve Turpin is a thief, a conman, a liar and a despicable human being. He was put in jail because he stole money from innocent people and kept it for himself and his associates. If you don’t understand this you need to see a mental health professional. He should stay in jail for the rest of his life based on the pain that he has cause to others. For your information I was one of his victims!

      • Jennifer says:

        I am so sorry for your loss. I was married to this jerk back in 1988-89 and he is a liar, cheat, their, an conman. He swindled my partents life savings and a number of friends. I’d love to chat with you, if you are so inclined.
        And I agree, he needs to stay behind bars for the rest of his life. I am surprised no one has taken him out yet.

    • Jennifer says:

      John: What kind of idiot are you?

  5. Theresa Stelzig says:

    John, You are a severly misguided soul. Skip is the worst kiind of human being. I was his Mother-in-law and he swindled me along with all my friends. He feels no guilt about destroying anyones life. They think (police) he killed his grandmother, he has certainly put his parents through hell. He was convicted of his crimes in San Patricio County, Tx and sent to Seagoville. Obviously it did no good. He needs to NEVER get out of jail.

  6. Angie Armstrong says:

    I was approached by him recently for a business deal. Would love to hear more from these ladies so I know what I’m getting into. My email is Thanks

  7. Chuck winger says:

    He hasnt even been out for 2 months and is back to his scheming. He is currently trying to do a seafood scheme, selling shrimp. As soon as I met him I knew this guy was a conman.

  8. Marina says:

    I think this is the same Steve Turpin who recently has been trying to get my husband involved in his business dealings. He claims he represents a wealthy oil family from the Middle East. Could this be the same man? He is from Texas and in his 50s.

  9. Marina says:

    Also, does anyone have a photo of him? That way I can verify for sure if this is the same man. Thanks.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I sure do. Send me an email at and I’ll forward one to you. It is an older one but I am sure you will see the resemblance.

    • Rosa G says:

      Do not do business with this man.
      He is very much so a con man, and he will giving the opportunity take every penny you have!!

  11. Jennifer says:

    Donna: This looks like a mug shot from 2007, not Friday, August 21, 2015. How did you come by this information? Is it true? Is he back in jail? One can only HOPE!!!!!

  12. Kelvin says:

    I was in prison with this low scumbag he and his shies terrance attorney John Osborne scammed me in prison.Steve is truly a lowlife piece of shots rot in he’ll mf

  13. I was in prison with this scumbag. He and his attorney John Osborne scammed me for 24,000 worth of jewelry. He is definitely a lowlife and need to rotate in he’ll and jail lowlife piece of shit

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