THE SENTENCING HEARING:
Huffman addressed the judge saying, “I can tell you it was never an intent to rip off the world.” Huffman said his own financial problems prompted the Ponzi scheme that stole from friends, neighbors and fellow church members. “I certainly want to say that I’m sorry,” Huffman said.
The judge said he isn’t frequently at a loss for words, but in this case he was.
“These are good, honest, hard-working people who worked their entire lives,” Bell said to Huffman. “You had every opportunity. You didn’t have to work in a mill for 40 years, and there aren’t one, two or 10 (victims), there are hundreds.”
Bell said it is also not just one generation that’s affected, but up to three that could feel the effects of what Huffman’s done. After sentencing Huffman to 30 years, Bell gave him some advice for his time in prison.
“I hope that every day of those 30 years, you think of those people who had their money taken from them,” Bell said.
Victims of Ponzi schemes generally don’t want to hear what’s coming next, but here goes. Look back and ask yourself, what did you do to find yourself in this mess? For a Ponzi schemer to defraud you – you had to fall into what I call the PIT. First, “P” – you fell for the promise. Likely, think back about it and be honest, you were PROMISED something that seemed really good – perhaps too good to be true. You were promised a better return than anyone you knew was getting for their investments.
From 8+% to 16% – Huffman followed a tried and true method to defraud – he made a great promise. He followed human nature – making you think that you were somehow special and that he could get you a better return than most of your friends were getting. He hooked you right then and there. And, if there is a lesson from this tragedy it would be DON’T FALL FOR THAT!
Now fairly, once Huffman had you hooked he solidified his position with you by creating the “I” – ILLUSION through fake statements making you feel that what you had was somehow real…and he showed you evidence of his success. After all, in order for you to feel successful – he must be successful. Now, I know that many of Huffman’s victims might say, “I never met the man.” True, but you likely knew someone who did and he created the perfect reputation so that he could continue his scheme.
Lastly, he used “T” – TRUST as his foundation for attracting more victims. Huffman did exactly the same thing that Bernie Madoff did – just on a smaller scale. And who did he go after – friends, church members, folks who knew and trusted him. And not knowing the victims, my guess is – many of you suggested Huffman to your friends – after all, you were getting such great returns. Victims creating or paving the way for more victims. And, many of you would now say that this has created painful riffs in your relationships with others.
Simple advice: (1) If you think you’re getting a better deal than others get – your likely being scammed. (2) Don’t do investment business with those you know and trust – they are the most likely folks to scam you.
WHAT CAN I DO TO GET MY MONEY BACK?
Perhaps nothing. But, there are provisions in the federal tax code that might offer some relief. And, while I hear that you’d want it all back…believe me, something is better than nothing. For sure, Huffman can’t earn enough in prison to provide any restitution.
A post in my blog that discusses how you can gain some relief can be found here. NOW LET ME BE CLEAR…it is easy to be defrauded twice by folks who prey on those who have been victims of schemes just like Huffmans. BE CAREFUL. That said, I wrote the following and stand behind the author of the blog referenced above:
Moira Souza Shiver, expert on the application of IRC Section 165, has been asked by me to write this guest blog. The benefits of Section 165 can be substantial, yet there are few who are qualified to understand how to effectively navigate the regulatory maze to gain maximum benefit. As a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, I try, through this blog, to provide a useful forum for discussing issues, and there is none more important at this time than the effective use of legal methods to recover loss.
If you’ve been scammed by Huffman and, perhaps, attended the sentencing hearing…I’d welcome your comments.
Finally, regarding financial help…check out Moira and research folks who provide Section 165 help…but be careful, and don’t fall prey to someone who promises more than is reasonable.
YOUR COMMENTS WELCOME!