Geoffrey W. Nehrenz indicted for role in Ponzi Scheme

January 22, 2015

An eight-count federal indictment has been returned charging a Uniontown man for his role operating a Ponzi scheme in which 19 investors were defrauded out of approximately $5.5 million, law enforcement officials said.

Ponzi SchemeGeoffrey W. Nehrenz, 36, faces one count of securities fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of fraud by an investment advisor, and two counts of money laundering.

“This defendant took advantage of people who trusted him and used their hard-earned money to fund his lifestyle,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“Geoffrey Nehrenz callously preyed on the desires of 19 individuals to make wise investments and duped them out of millions,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to root out fraudsters like Mr. Nehrenz.”

“Promoters of Ponzi schemes prey upon trusting investors and then steal their hard-earned money. Investors should be wary that programs promising unbelievable returns on investments should be looked at carefully,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Remember the old cliché: ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.’”

Between October 2009 and September 2013, Nehrenz promoted and sold investment contracts to clients through Keystone Capital Management, LLC (“KCM”) an investment adviser company located in Uniontown, which is an Ohio limited liability company registered as an investment adviser firm, but not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nehrenz was the managing member, president, and chief executive officer of KCM, according to the indictment.

Nehrenz induced 19 clients to invest in Keystone by promoting KCM’s ability to generate positive investment returns in equity markets while mitigating risk. He falsely represented to potential clients that their funds would be pooled, invested during the day in large- and mid-capitalization, publicly traded U.S. securities exclusively, and converted to cash overnight. Rather than investing the funds, Nehrenz used client money to pay his personal expenses, to pay business expenses to promote and prolong his investment scheme, and to make speculative, high-risk trades with domestic and overseas private placement vehicles without his clients’ authority, transactions known as “side pocket investments,” according to the indictment.

Nehrenz induced at least 19 clients to invest approximately $7 million into his hedge fund, resulting in losses to his clients in the amount of approximately $5.5 million.


Stuck in Prison – Gordon Grigg scheduled for Release…Early!

May 28, 2014

Gordon Grigg…scheduled for release 9/29/2014.

Gordon GriggSeems the court has had a change of heart when it comes to Mr. Grigg.  Wonder what his victims have to say about his early release?

Here’s the earlier report:  https://chuckgallagher.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/gordon-grigg-staying-in-prison-says-judge-aleta-trauger-looks-like-the-good-deeds-dont-outweigh-the-bad/


Dan Frishberg apparently in violation of SEC order not to offer Investment Advice. Will there ever be Justice in this case?

November 6, 2012

Hello everyone Dan, here. How often do you hear yourself saying “no I haven’t looked at that yet, but I’ve been meaning to?”

Thus began an email written to my by none other than Dan Frishberg.  Yes, Dan Frishberg of disgraced BizRadio fame, the same Dan Frishberg that is banned from the SEC in offering investment advice…not that it seems the SEC has any teeth when it comes to Dan and his continued radio commentary.

I just read yet another email from a frustrated trader telling me that the trading techniques, the pattern recognition software, or the black box strategies that he believed in are simply not working.

Wow…again I’m confused.  You received “yet another email from a frustrated trader” – but Dan you’re not supposed to be offering investment advice so why would you be receiving any emails from traders?  What am I missing here?

Brokers are telling their customers to ignore their losses and hang on, but that’s what they always say. Sometimes that advice works, but it has also resulted in some of the biggest losses in the past twenty years.

Oh my…”some of the biggest losses in the past twenty years” – wonder if that isn’t exactly what happened to people – good folks who couldn’t afford to lose – when they listened to your line about BizRadio and why they should invest in you.  Dan tell me – if they lost in you, why should they now listen to you – especially when you’re not supposed to be offering investment advice?  Damn this perplexes me!

One listener said he has finally realized technical analysis doesn’t work. This isn’t true, the current price is unquestionably a key part of the story but this is only part of it.

Only part of the story…seems that’s a mantra for you.  Has anyone who invested with you in BizRadio ever gotten the truth – the full story or even as much as an apology?

The paradox of investing is – it’s easy to make money when you stop searching for the easy answer.

Yet you and Al Kaleta offered “easy answers” to investors who by all accounts were defrauded.  Have you made restitution?  Have you made it easy for them to recover their monies?

Instead, get an update on what’s working now — the most up to the minute insight into the trends, turning points, and my best stock and option trade ideas in my all new newsletter, Whats Working Now.

You do have a big set of (whatever)…get “my best stock and option trade ideas” – good lord is that not in direct violation of the SEC requirement that you not offer investment advice?  Justice?  Doesn’t seem to be any here!

CLICK HERE – (I disabled this link as I’m not giving Dan Frishberg a link from my blog)

DANIEL FRISHBERG
THE MONEYMAN REPORT
themoneyman.com

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Victimized by a Ponzi Scheme – Thomas Mitchell sentenced to 9 years in prison, but what about the Victims?

August 19, 2011

What is the impact when a fraud is perpetrated and the possibility of recovery is dismal?  How do people deal with the emotional impact of distrust created when scammed?  Those questions are central in the recent sentencing of Thomas Mitchell who ran a 15 year Ponzi scheme targeting 150 retired train and bus drivers in L.A.  Sentenced to 9 years in prison, Mitchell will be facing his consequences, but what about his victims?

Excerpts from a CNN article state the following:

Even after the man who stole 67-year-old Frances Wills’ entire life savings was sentenced to nine years in prison, she still didn’t feel as if justice had been served.

Mitchell will begin his sentence on Sept. 23. But it may take longer for Wills — who still can’t sleep at night or stop crying — to move on.

“I’m still hurting inside,” she said. “Nine years is not enough for what he’s done to all these people. We want him to suffer like we suffered.”

“It looks like there’s just no money to be had, so there’s nothing we can do,” said Anand. “It’s sad because many of these people are in terrible, terrible circumstances.”

“I used to get up at 2:30 a.m. to get to work driving my bus,” said Wills, who lost the $156,000 she had saved from her job as a Long Beach Transit bus driver for 23 years. “And then for him to just take it out of greed — I want to know: What did he do with our money?”

The judge at Mitchell’s sentencing invited victims to tell their stories in court. One woman took 30 pages of notes with her and didn’t leave until she was completely done. Others were such emotional wrecks they couldn’t stand to address the court.

“The whole courtroom was full of tears,” said Wills. “All Mitchell did was sit there and look stupid. There were a lot of people in there who wanted to slap him upside the head.”

According to court documents, Mitchell promised his clients returns of up to 12.5% on their investments to lure them in, but would then only invest “a miniscule fraction” of their money. He would make monthly payments to keep his clients from worrying — and which many used for living expenses.

Notice one of the biggest evidences that a fraud is happening is an UNREASONABLE PROMISE.  In the lectures I give on fraud prevention, I generally share that victims fall into the PIT.  That means the first part of the PIT is an Unreasonable PROMISE.  Mitchell promised his clients (victims rather) returns of up to 12.5%.  That’s a NEON sign flashing SUCKER I’m ABOUT TO ROB YOU!

But Mitchell meanwhile used the rest of the money his clients had invested for himself. By the end, he didn’t even have enough money to pay his victims the monthly stipends.

Wills relied on those monthly checks from Mitchell. When they stopped coming, she had to sell her home and move into a mobile home. She can’t afford to pay her bills or fix her broken-down car. And she had to apply for food stamps a few weeks ago and now asks her children to help her out.

Some of the other victims duped by the Ponzi scheme include Bobby Bradley, a 70-year-old retired bus driver who lost his life savings of $215,000 and is now looking for work again.

An MTA service attendant, Charles Black, said he watched 23 years of his life go down the drain when he found out his entire retirement stash — $250,000 — was gone.

Mitchell’s own cousin, Robbie Gilbert — who lost $150,000 in retirement savings to Mitchell — wasn’t able to make it to the sentencing. But she said the fact that he will be behind bars for the next nine years is enough to ease her anger for the time being.

There are three components of most frauds from the perspective of the VICTIMS:  (1) Promise; (2) Illusion and (3) Trust.

Let’s look at what was reported and see if we can find those components.  ILLUSION – according to reports Mitchell used funds from other victims to pay earlier victims creating the Illusion that there were actually returns from investments taking place.

Ah, but the hook that gets VICTIMS in – in the first place – is the PROMISE.  Here the promise was a return (plus principle) of up to 12.5%.  I can’t speak to why…but in every case it seems clear that “investors” seem to gravitate to something that “others can’t have” – some call it greed.  I think, rather than greed, we have a psychological desire to be above average and if someone offers something that seems real that is “off limits” to the average guy…then we are more apt to bite.  Guess it’s DNA to want what we can’t or shouldn’t have…just think of the apple.  (Some readers will get that!)

Now, let’s be honest.  A PROMISE of a 12.5% return is not reasonable and ANY PROMISE of a guaranteed return should give us a moment to pause and investigate further!

The funny part about a Ponzi Scheme is that the ILLUSION that supports the PROMISE actually creates the TRUST needed to perpetuate the scheme.  More times than not, the “investors” VICTIMS actually are the ones that turn others on to the “scam” without having any knowledge that they are luring others into the trap!

The Ponzi scheme only collapses when the source of funding dries up.  Most of the time, the scheme gets so large and top heavy (the need for additional funding becomes so great) that it collapses on itself.

So…the FBI suggests the following which is worth repeating:

So how can you avoid being victimized by a Ponzi scheme? A few tips:

  • Be careful of any investment opportunity that makes exaggerated earnings claims.
  • Exercise due diligence in selecting investments and the people with whom you invest—in other words, do your homework!
  • Consult an unbiased third party, like an unconnected broker or licensed financial advisor, before investing.

If you were victimized by Thomas Mitchell and have wisdom to share with others about how to avoid being scammed, please share!

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Convicted Ponzi Fraudster Nevin Shapiro provides a Tsunami of Evidence against the University of Miami Football program…

August 17, 2011

Talking about going from “FAN” to folly…Nevin Shapiro is squealing like a stuck pig in his allegations regarding his actions and wrong doing in the University of Miami football program.

Feeling abandoned by the U of M program in his conviction for his massive Ponzi Scheme…Shapiro is now speaking out loudly from his Atlanta prison cell suggesting the U of M program might face the “death penalty” as his hand.  The question is – is any of this real?

In an interview:

Shapiro said for the first time that not only was it players who sought favor with him, but also Hurricanes football staff was involved. According to Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, the information first came out under questioning by federal officials and bankruptcy trustee attorneys.

Shapiro is at the heart of an NCAA investigation and his involvement with the school dates back to 2001-2002. Shapiro’s attorney has claimed that he provided UM players with the use of a yacht and various other favors.

Shapiro said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a list of players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins.

Shapiro also claimed he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, restaurant meals and in one case, an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player. One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro at about the time he was entering college.

QUESTION:  What do you think about Nevin’s allegations?  Is he trying to gain favor by cooperating in a federal investigation (and thereby reduce his sentence)?  Do you think there is validity to his allegations?

COMMENT: One interesting aspect to Shapiro’s claims is that they would be consistent with the behavior of a Ponzi fraudster.  Most fraudsters tend to flaunt their ill gotten wealth as the reality is what they have is valueless to them since it cost nothing to begin with.  Most importantly, the fraudster is flaunting money in order to meet a need or feed ego.  So…not having the facts (which will come out) I have a sense that Shapiro’s claims may, at least in part, be true.

Interesting links:

https://chuckgallagher.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/another-ponzi-scheme-nevin-shapiro-from-the-fbi-website-no-less/

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/campusrivalry/post/2011/08/miami-athletes-cash-gifts-ponzi-scheme/1

http://galvestondailynews.com/ap/ee9797/

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/17/2362972/accused-ponzi-swindler-nevin-shapiro.html

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/17/2364074/questions-arise-as-um-reels-from.html

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Christopher Blackwell – indicted on Investment Fraud in Colleyville, Texas. Simple fraud will earn a painful consequence!

July 22, 2011

A classic stupid Ponzi scheme!  It has been said that a sucker is born every day, but I still find myself amazed that otherwise intelligent people would fall for something so blatantly stupid as what Blackwell offered to the fine folks in and around Colleyville, Texas.  As a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker and author, I know first hand about what goes on behind the scenes when such a fraud occurs and how folks fall prey to victimization by perpetrators like Blackwell.

Christopher Blackwell, 32, of Colleyville, Texas, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of wire fraud in relation to an investment fraud scheme he has operated since January 2007. Blackwell was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, earlier this month. Blackwell remains in custody. A date has not yet been set for his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth.

According to the indictment, Blackwell allegedly deceived investors by falsely telling them that he would invest their money in business ventures that would generate a high rate of return, and by fraudulently assuring them that the investments would involve little to no risk. He told investors that their money would be invested in specific business ventures, but when he received investors’ money, he didn’t invest it and instead used most of it for his own personal benefit. On occasion, he would use some of the funds from new investors to make small payments to earlier investors to convince them that their money was generating a profit. However, not all investors received payments from Blackwell and many lost all of the money they invested.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, more than 20 victims, suffering more than $4 million in losses as a result of Blackwell’s scheme, have been identified. One investor, identified only by initials, lost all of the $325,000 he gave Blackwell to invest. In fact, after this investor wired the money as directed to Blackwell’s accounts, agents obtained Blackwell’s bank records and were able to determine that Blackwell didn’t invest the money as promised, but instead used it for personal expenditures including automatic teller machine withdrawals, dining and entertainment, luxury vehicle expenses and payments to family and business associates.

In February 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint against Christopher Love Blackwell, AV Bar Reg, Inc. and Millers A Game, LLC, two entities he controls, claiming that Blackwell enticed investors by telling them that his trading program would generate highly impressive, guaranteed returns of 25 to 30 percent per month with regularity. He falsely claimed these profits were possible because of his academic pedigree, including Master’s and Ph.D. degrees acquired at a prestigious university in Spain (Blackwell holds no such degrees); his extensive experience as a trader (he has little, if any, such experience); and the know-how and connections he acquired while employed by Goldman Sachs and The Bank of Madrid (he never worked at either firm). In March 2011, the SEC and Blackwell and his entities entered into an agreed judgment.

25 to 30 percent per month with regularity?  Really, in this economy people would believe that?  Whatever happened to due diligence?

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, each of the wire fraud counts carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could be ordered.

If you were a victim of this Ponzi Scheme…perhaps you’d comment on the lure Blackwell used to secure your investment.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Lorn Leitman, CPA and Attorney sentenced to 17 1/2 years in Federal Prison for a Ponzi Scheme!

July 14, 2011

Lorn Leitman, attorney and CPA, of Miami, Florida, to 210 months’ incarceration for his role in a 10-year Ponzi scheme. In an unusual decision, the court departed upward from a sentencing guideline range of 121-151 months, commenting, “this case is exceptional.”

A federal grand jury charged the defendant with violating the mail fraud statute for defrauding elderly victims and retirees, among others, through the operation of a Ponzi scheme which sought investments in either phantom residential mortgages or a separate venture burdening U.S. military personnel with predatory and usurious loans. The defendant pled guilty to one count of mail fraud on April 6, 2011 and faced a maximum possible sentence of imprisonment for 20 years. Several victims appeared in court to address the impact of the fraud. As one victim explained, losses from the Ponzi scheme forced the end of his retirement and his return to work. He commented, “my dreams are dead.”

The court explained that the decision to sentence above the guidelines resulted from the defendant’s conduct preying upon his closest friends, fellow servicemen, the elderly and retirees, and noted that the defendant breached codes of conduct applicable to members of the Florida Bar and certified public accountants. In addition to the enhanced sentence, the court ordered the defendant to pay $3,308,435.03 in restitution to victims.

OBSERVATION:

From personal and past experience in dealing with fraud and now fraud prevention, the most likely target of those scammed are folks who are close to the perpetrator.  Reality is, in this case, the time in prison will leave Leitman a changed man and the chance of seeing any restitution is slim.

If you were a victim of this crime, please take a moment and share how you were lured into Leitman’s trap.  Your comments may help others recognize and avoid a similar fate.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!