John Anthony Miller – Ponzi Scheme Fruadster sentenced to 13 Years in prison… Was it worth it?

Frankly I’d say John Anthony Miller was lucky.  Based on the sentences being handed down for Bernie Madoff like Ponzi schemes, to get 13 years was probably light considering…

According the the news release from the US Attorney’s office, from 2000 through November 2008, Miller operated a Ponzi scheme through his Newport Beach-based investment companies, JAM Jr. Enterprises and Forte Financial Partners. Miller made promises of “guaranteed” annual returns of as much as 18 percent per year, telling investors that their money would be invested in foreign currency trading, oil wells, real estate and other vehicles. During the course of the scheme, Miller provided investors with monthly account statements that falsely represented they were earning the promised returns. In fact, Miller had never earned any real profits from his investment activity and, in the pattern of a typical Ponzi scheme, used money from some investors to make Ponzi payments to other investors.

Now it seems that Miller was, knowing his fate was sealed, trying to escape the clutches of the federal prison system.  Guess Miller didn’t think that prison suited his style.

The FBI and the State Department already were aware that John Anthony Miller’s scheme was falling apart when they targeted him in a sting in November 2008.  Working with an informant, an FBI agent who also was an attorney and a former clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, set up a sting operation. Miller’s telephone calls with the informant were recorded as the scheme was collapsing.

Miller sought the informant’s help in obtaining a passport to a country that did not have an extradition treaty with the United States, according to the complaint. Using a story that a family friend knew a corrupt passport official, the informant set up a meeting between Miller and the purportedly corrupt official, who was actually an undercover officer from the U.S. Department of State.

Miller agreed to pay $20,000 for the passport, with $5,000 paid up front and the balance of $15,000 upon delivery of the passport. Miller paid the undercover officer $5,000 in cash that had been stuffed in an envelope. He then filled out a passport application that used the identity of his deceased classmate, according to the complaint. Miller ultimately concluded it was best to flee the country. After using Ponzi proceeds to pay the undercover agent the $5,000 deposit  required for the bogus passport in November 2008, Miller was told it would take seven to 10 days for the documents to be prepared. He provided two photographs of himself, and used the name, Social Security number and date of birth of his deceased Catholic school classmate in the application.

Looks like that scheme, like his ponzi schemes just didn’t work.  2010 brought a different outcome than the one Miller was planning – PRISON.

  • Over the course of his scheme, Miller defrauded more than 130 people out of more than $21 million, taking millions of dollars that some victims withdrew from IRA retirement savings accounts and others borrowed against their homes.
  • Prosecutors read Snyder portions of letters from victims. A husband and wife, one of whom was suffering from colon cancer, lost more than $800,000. Now in bankruptcy and suffering from regular nightmares, they wrote: “They say time heals all wounds, but not in this case. The impact on our lives has been like a cancer growing and festering and has caused irreparable and unrecoverable damage to our lives, not just financially but emotionally and physically.” They added: “Miller raped us of our money, our dignity, and any hope of a decent future.”
  • In sentencing papers, the feds labeled Miller “amongst the most egregious of any investment fraudster or Ponzi schemer this Court will ever see. He didn’t just solicit fraudulent investments through mailings or mass marketing, like many fraudsters do. He didn’t just interact with victims over the telephone or at investment seminars, like many others. [Miller] lied to people in person, up close, sitting in their living rooms or at their kitchen tables, knowing full well the vulnerability of his victims and the inevitable devastation his deceit would cause them.”

DO YOU FEEL THAT MILLER’S SENTENCE WAS JUST?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

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50 Responses to John Anthony Miller – Ponzi Scheme Fruadster sentenced to 13 Years in prison… Was it worth it?

  1. Marcus Keith says:

    Hi Chuck – I enjoyed reading your piece on Miller. I’m the undercover informant who lured Miller into the Passport Office sting. It was like a citizen’s arrest. The FBI said they never had a “special delivery” like that before!

    • Susan W. Kelly says:

      Marcus,
      Congratulations for being brave enough to step up. Anything new with Ted Staren’s trial or outcome?

  2. Jon Wilcox says:

    Great Article!

    I am glad the FBI and our system of law has taken this man down. Thank you Mr. Keith for helping to put John Miller behind bars before he could hurt more people. And thank you Mr. Gallagher for shinning your light on these parasites.

    I found this story by searching for Miller’s partner, Ted R. Staren who is currently incarcerated and awaiting his trial in Santa Ana. Just like John Miller, Ted bilked investors face to face. When I heard he was a fraud it made so much sense. I witnessed him in action and can still see his brash smile. He thought he was so smart.

    I hope Ted gets 13 years too.

    • Frank Edgar says:

      Mr. Wilcox: I represent investors with Staren living on the east coast — what is the latest on the criminal and the civil actions filed against Staren?

      • Marcus says:

        Frank, I have been following this and Ted Staren was arrested by FB shortly before Xmas. He appears to still be incarcerated, according to the Fed BOP Inmate Locater. His name is spelled STAREN. mk

        http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp

      • Jon Wilcox says:

        I have heard nothing about Mr. Staren and was unable to find him on the inmate locater provided by Mike. I too would like to know what happened to this man.

        Jon Wilcox

  3. Katharine Dahl says:

    would you kindly assist me…I gave all my savings to an associate of miller’s named Ted Staren..is there any information on where he is or if any charges have been brought against him….is there any recourse? My ‘promissory note was due Jan 15,2010. I am single, seventy one, brain-jured (no kidding!) and don’t know where to turn…..thank you for any thoughts or suggestions you may have. In 2005 I thought i was making a responsible investment for my future and made it clear…i am a ‘NO RISK” participant. Ted said i would be like family and he would take care of me…..guess i better stick with God. i thank you.
    Katharine Hartwig Dahl, Georgia, USA

  4. Matthias Weaver says:

    Search under “Theodore R. Staren”. He’s in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, release date “unknown”.

  5. K H Dah says:

    Please inform of any Ted staren news..i was one of those who ‘made his day’

  6. Bernie Germani says:

    I was an investor that allowed Ted and John into my home, and had my entire retirement portfolio stolen right under my fearful nose. My wife at that time did not like John Miller, but I had known one of his clients for many years who had high regards for John.
    I rolled over my IRA to IRA Resources, and that was the last time I saw money.
    In October 08 I had bought an investment property, and tried to get my money from Miller, but he never returned my phone calls, that is when I knew something was wrong, and then a few months later is when he was arrested by the FBI. 13 years is a slap on the wrist to come home to millions of dollars that is being kept who knows where. I don’t think Mr. Miller could ever show his face in Orange County again.

  7. Anastasia Beaverhausen says:

    Is there any update on Ted Staren? Has he been sentenced or is he still awaiting trial?

  8. steven says:

    I knew john miller & ted staren … john met ted in phoenix, ted then had some kind major medical problem. I suspected john was dirty. & to marcus kieth “rat” you wont have to worry about john & ted but sooner or later your snitching life will catch up to you

    • Marcus Keith says:

      … Unlike you, I saw the crime being committed by an recalcitrant conman, at the expense of people’s retirement funds, and I proactively intervened. What is your excuse for looking the other way?

      And if you are going to answer the above, be honest enough to identify yourself, otherwise just let it be obvious that you were one of Miller’s “associates” at some previous point. Right?

  9. Marcus Keith says:

    Yes, I concur – ‘Steve’ is likely an alias, the only commenter using an alias, probably.

  10. Matthias Weaver says:

    So what happened with Ted? It’s been a year since he was arrested. Is he still incarcerated?

  11. Matthias Weaver says:

    The inmate locator says that Ted Staren was RELEASED December 3, 2010.

  12. Matthias Weaver says:

    Apparently the trial is in mid-April.

  13. Alan says:

    Is there a website, or other place where I can find out about Ted Staren’s upcoming trial? And who is representing him?

  14. scott says:

    i was in mdc with john miller. he was still trying to make deals and scam the other inmates while awaiting trial. what a scumbag. i cant believe anyone would give this guy money. he knows nothing about trading or investing. scott

  15. Susan W. Kelly says:

    Does anyone know the latest information about Ted Staren? Someone above mentioned there is a trial in mid April. Does he have a trial coming up? Does anyone know the date? Is he in prison? Does anyone know where? It looks as though he was released from Federal Prison in December 2010. Is he going to get away with this as a victim? There isn’t any other updated information on the web.

    • Hello Susan, ted was not released from prison, he was released from the Federal MDC, a jail facility, on bail we presume.

      What exactly have you heard about his ‘upcoming trial’? We could not find anything via simple google search.

      • Susan W. Kelly says:

        Hi, I don’t really know the difference between jail and prison – incarcarated is the term I should have used. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information. I only know what I’m reading on this site, and online. Thank you for offering information on this site. I saw that his judge in the Santa Ana court was Block before. I tried to search for Block’s calendar, on the court site and they didn’t have any specific information about a trial date. If anyone else has any additional relevant information, will you please leave an update?

  16. Kathryn says:

    In response to Alan, according to the court document, Ted’s counsel was G. David Haigh.

  17. Katie says:

    Hi
    I also was completely scammed under my by Ted Staren, who acted like he was my best friend, and always had strange excuses for not being able to give me my $39,000 back that I put in, let alone the thousands of dollars I supposedly earned on that at ~18% a year. The first year, he said he had a brain anurism and almost died, and that is why the money was held up. This stretched on for over a year I would say. Finally I got a something back for my first investment of $2k, and I’m retrospectively embarrassed to say that I fell for the hospital scam, and put a lot more into it, since he finally did pay me with the interest for the initial investment, with interest. This money was INSURED he guaranteed me over and over. Then a couple of years ago he said the bank went out of business and the insurance company too… but he was ALWAYS working on it, from one foreign country to another. Probably traveling the world on our hard earned money, living it up. What really upsets me is how CHUMMY he was, always asking me about my girls, my home and acting so concerned I wasn’t getting the money. Finally, just before he got incarcerated, he said he felt so bad for me, he would make an exception and pay me from his personal funds, but he wasn’t doing that for anyone else. Ha! The next thing I knew, I found out he was in jail and all of this was a fraud. It’s all very creepy and I am disgusted with him. This was borrowed money for me at the time, and A LOT of money for me. Is there any chance of ever getting our money back? I hope he pays all of for this somehow. His supposed wife, Amy(?) was involved too. But I don’t know if she really existed. He was a tennis pro. My roommate knew him about 9 years ago and told me about this incredible financial investment opportunity… If anyone knows anything we can do about this, please share. Thank you and good luck to all, Katie

    • Judy Wyrick says:

      Ted R. Staren’s wife is named Mia. As his nurse, she supposedly nursed him back to health after the brain aneurysm and then he married her. He sent us wedding pictures so I suppose it really happened. We are shocked and saddened to hear what he has done.

  18. Katie says:

    Hi
    I also was completely scammed by Ted Staren, who acted like he was my best friend, and always had strange excuses for not being able to give me my $39,000 back that I put in, let alone the thousands of dollars I supposedly earned on that at ~18% a year. The first year, he said he had a brain anurism and almost died, and that is why the money was held up. This stretched on for over a year I would say. Finally I got a something back for my first investment of $2k, and I’m retrospectively embarrassed to say that I fell for the hospital scam, and put a lot more into it, since he finally did pay me with the interest for the initial investment, with interest. This money was INSURED he guaranteed me over and over. Then a couple of years ago he said the bank went out of business and the insurance company too… but he was ALWAYS working on it, from one foreign country to another. Probably traveling the world on our hard earned money, living it up. What really upsets me is how CHUMMY he was, always asking me about my girls, my home and acting so concerned I wasn’t getting the money. Finally, just before he got incarcerated, he said he felt so bad for me, he would make an exception and pay me from his personal funds, but he wasn’t doing that for anyone else. Ha! The next thing I knew, I found out he was in jail and all of this was a fraud. It’s all very creepy and I am disgusted with him. This was borrowed money for me at the time, and A LOT of money for me. I never got ANY statements, just the original document. Is there any chance of ever getting our money back? I hope he pays all of for this somehow. His supposed wife, Amy(?) was involved too. But I don’t know if she really existed. He was a tennis pro. My roommate knew him about 9 years ago and told me about this incredible financial investment opportunity… If anyone knows anything we can do about this, please share. Thank you and good luck to all, Katie

  19. Kathryn Estabrook says:

    Is there any update on Ted? Has he gone to trial yet?

  20. Susan W. Kelly says:

    Does anyone have the current status of Ted Staren? Has he gone to trial?

  21. Fran says:

    The trial will be February 2012, Santa Ana court. Have no specifics on date or time. This second hand information, comes from a fellow investor who was intrical with the FBI sting operation that put Mr. Staren behind bars in 2009.

    • Marcus Keith says:

      Fran, there was NO investor involved with the sting that took John down, only me.

      • Kathryn says:

        Do you know the outcome of Ted’s February trial?

      • Marcus Keith says:

        No, I don’t know anything about ted’s trial. I would have expected him to plead guilty by now, since he likely cannot win at trial.

        Does anyone know anything about Ted Staren’s status?

  22. C Greene says:

    Similar story from AZ – please add me to your list of contacts – C. Greene – az85251@cox.net. Ted said he was a mutual friend of an owner of a real estate funding (Mortgages Ltd.). The mutual friend ended up committing suicide leaving a billion dollar legal issue with investors.

  23. Marcus Keith says:

    Here is an interesting find: a radio interview with John and Ted from 2006: very revealing –

    http://www.kuci.org/podcastfiles/648/John%20Miller_Ted%20Starren.mp3

  24. Pete says:

    trial date is 2/21/2012 for Ted

  25. Kathryn says:

    Does anyone know the status of Ted?

  26. Ed says:

    Does anybody know how to get your money back from IRA Resources?

  27. Peter says:

    Ted Staren’s trial is set for Oct. 30, 2012 at 9:00 am at the United
    States District Court 411 W. Fourth Street Santa Ana, CA 92701 before Judge Andrew J. Guilford

  28. peter says:

    trial now set for 6/11/13

  29. Susan W. Kelly says:

    Status Conference 8/26/13, 2pm, trial 9/10/13, 9am

    Honorable Andrew J. Guilford

    SACR 09-232-AG: U.S.A. v TED R STAREN

  30. Susan W. Kelly says:

    The matter was continued for a competency hearing of the defendant. It is set for October 15, 2013 and the trial is set in January 2014.

  31. Jamie says:

    does anyone have any pics of either of these two now? Are both currently free? We had a gentleman staying with us that I feel is strongly tied to them and when he left I found a id from 1981 with the name John Miller on it. He is going by the name Keith Fore…which there was a Keith Fore Oil in OK at one time…any help figuring this web out is appreciated. email me at fh.buyer@yahoo.com

  32. Kathryn says:

    Much time has passed. Does anyone know the outcome of Ted’s trial?

  33. Susan W. Kelly says:

    On 12/5/13 defendant was ordered released from custody and to
    self-surrender to the atty general by 12/24/13. On 12/11/13, the trial was continued to 6/24/14.

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