Seniors In Gallery Of Ponzi Rogues; Grandpa Breaks Bad

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We noted Sunday that a startling number of senior citizens have been implicated in Ponzi schemes or accused of monumental financial misdeeds. Featured in this graphic are (left to right): Andy Bowdoin, president of fundamentally defunct AdSurfDaily Inc. of Quincy, Fla.; Bernard Madoff, head man at fundamentally defunct Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities of New York; and Arthur Nadel, principal in several fundamentally defunct hedge funds in Sarasota, Fla.

Bowdoin is 74. Prosecutors said he fleeced investors in a $100 million Ponzi scheme by selling unregistered securities and calling them “advertisements.”

Madoff, who might have presided over the biggest Ponzi scheme in world history, is 70. Losses could reach $50 billion.

Nadel, 76, was arrested yesterday in Tampa, after being on the lam for two weeks. An estimated $300 million is missing from hedge funds he managed in Sarasota.

Authorities said all three men lived well while investors were being taken to the cleaners. Just prior to a federal seizure of his assets in August, Bowdoin put a gleaming new Lincoln in the driveway — after setting up a sham entity, diverting ASD money to it in a bid to hide assets, and using ASD cash to fuel personal spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars by family members and preferred investors, prosecutors said.

Bowdoin has surrendered claims to approximately $100 million in cash and other assets seized by the Feds. In a second forfeiture complaint that is unresolved, prosecutors seek to take control over other assets tied to the firm, including cars, a 20-foot Triton Cabana boat, jet skis and other property purchased with the proceeds of an illegal enterprise.

Irving Picard, the trustee in the Madoff case, has filed papers to reject expensive automobile leases. While Madoff was engaging in a Ponzi scheme, Picard said, investors were footing the bill for three Mercedes, a Range Rover, a Lexus and a Cadillac.

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Lease costs for the Mercedes units alone exceeded $4,200 a month, while the lease for the Range Rover cost $1,153 monthly. The Lexus ($888/month) and the Cadillac ($884/month) were relative bargains compared to the other vehicles.

Prosecutors now say Nadel also took money from company funds and used it for family businesses. The receiver in the Nadel case, Burton Wiand, said in court filings that one of the family business owns as many as five airplanes.

Other seniors in Ponzi trouble include Richard Picolli, 82, operator of the alleged Gen-See Ponzi in western New York. Prosecutors said he mostly targeted Catholics.

Meanwhile, Ronald Keith Owens, 73, was just sentenced in Texas to 60 years in prison for running a “prime bank” Ponzi scheme promising huge returns out of the Bahamas and elsewhere.

Elsewhere, James Blackman Roberts, 71, of Heber Springs, Ark., was just sentenced to 15 years in prison for running a $43.5 million Ponzi scheme.

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3 Responses to “Seniors In Gallery Of Ponzi Rogues; Grandpa Breaks Bad”

  1. Merc S class and a GL? I’ve never been a fan of Mercs, but his choice here was pretty poor. If he wanted a big car, he should have gone for that Porche Cayenne. And for a big saloon, the Beemers are better.

    Anyway, back to ponzi watching, looks like Santander are going to take a hit:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/business/worldbusiness/28santander.html?ref=business

    Also, SEC Obtains Judgments Against Operators of Prime Bank Scheme
    http://sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/2009/lr20871.htm
    Prime Bank Scheme is another way of saying HYIP == ponzi.

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  2. Thanks for the links, Tony. “Prime Bank” scheme also normally means “pitched as offshore,” which demonstrates the fallacy that “offshore equals untouchable.”

    As a side note, Wells Fargo took a $294 million charge today related to the Madoff scheme. The bank had no money with Madoff and didn’t pitch his investments.

    But Wells Fargo customers who also had accounts with Madoff were wiped out, meaning they couldn’t serve their obligations to Wells Fargo, so the bank took a charge.

    And some people say Ponzi schemes are harmless . . .

    Patrick

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