UPDATE: Ponzi ‘Shakedown’ Suspects Who Impersonated Federal Agents Get 6 Months’ Home Detention And Are Placed On Probation For 2 Years

Three people charged with conspiring to impersonate federal agents in a bid to rattle the nerves of a Ponzi scheme suspect and recover money have been sentenced to 180 days of home confinement and placed on federal probation for two years.

A fourth defendant in the shakedown scheme avoided a sentence of home confinement but was placed on federal probation for two years.

The bizarre shakedown scheme unfolded in March 2009, when Michael David Sanders, 43, of Fair Oaks, Calif.;  Craig Anderson, 41, of Chicago; Sean Smartt, 42, of Sacramento; and Cassandra Moore, 27, of Beverly Hills, Calif.,  entered a California hedge-fund office suite in a bid to recover investor money “lost in a Ponzi scheme carried out by federal defendant Anthony Vassallo,” the FBI said.

“The defendants entered dressed to give the impression of authority (bullet proof vests, ear pieces, fake credentials, hand cuffs, and badges),” the FBI said.  “Sanders and Anderson announced they were with the FBI and the United States Security and Exchange Commission.

“In their guilty pleas the defendants admitted to creating an environment that was intimidating and causing the individuals to believe that they were not free to leave,” the FBI continued. “Anderson told the hedge fund operators that they had until noon on Monday, March 9, 2009, to wire $378,300.16 to a Patelco Credit Union bank account in the name of the ‘Spirit Foundation’ and to send an e-mail confirmation to an e-mail address they provided. No money was ever turned over to the defendants.”

Moore was the only defendant who avoided home detention.

The shakedown bid was connected to the the alleged Equity Investment Management and Training Inc. (EIMT) Ponzi scheme that gathered more than $40 million.

It is illegal to impersonate a federal agent. Had the defendants not accepted a plea deal and not qualified for probation, they could have been sentenced to federal prison. Each pleaded guilty and accepted the deal. The IRS assisted in the probe.

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5 Responses to “UPDATE: Ponzi ‘Shakedown’ Suspects Who Impersonated Federal Agents Get 6 Months’ Home Detention And Are Placed On Probation For 2 Years”

  1. I have been reading “Diary of a very bad year: Confessions of an anonymous hedge fund manager.” In response to Madoff he said: “This gets to the point that you cannot cheat an honest man.” That is a point that these folks might have considered.

  2. Couldn’t disagree with you more Kenneth. Honest people are the easiest to cheat because they tend to assume everyone else is honest like them.

  3. I think he meant the opposite, honest people usually do not fall for the schemes. At least, that’s my impression… and I don’t usually do impressions!!!

  4. P.S. Unless you are referring to the elderly only, today’s honest persons are not as trusting, they were raised in a different America than were their parents and grandparents.
    The number and wide area of these schemes should have us all as confirmed cynics before long. Seems the only one you can totally trust is yourself, and I keep an watchful eye on me!! LOL

  5. […] Now, a similar claim hasn’t worked for Vassallo, 34. He is one of the purveyors of the Equity Investments Management & Trading (EIMT) Ponzi scheme in California, a crime that served up a heaping helping of the bizarre. Three individuals who led an alleged shakedown bid to recover money for investors were charged criminally in 2009, amid allegations they posed as federal agents. […]