BULLETIN: FLORIDA — AGAIN (UPDATE): James Risher Ponzi Scheme Used Pitchman Who Targeted Teachers, Retirees, Church Members, Golfers, SEC Says; Risher Had 5 Prior Criminal Convictions; Pitchman Daniel Joseph Sebastian Now Charged Civilly

“[Y]ou invest in this fund and all of a sudden you start making more money than you’ve ever made in your life with your investors. And then all of a sudden you start making enough money where you don’t have to go to work . . . [a]t Safe Harbor, you could retire today, like right now. And I’m telling you, you get rid of the struggle.” — SEC,  quoting accused Ponzi pitchman Daniel Joseph Sebastian, Aug. 29, 2011

BULLETIN: A Ponzi schemer arrested on criminal charges in June had the help of a pitchman who targeted senior citizens, church members, educators and golfers, the SEC said. The agency identified the pitchman as Daniel Joseph Sebastian of Celebration, Fla.

Sebastian conducted business as “Safe Harbor,” and helped James D. Risher pull off a $22 million Ponzi scheme that affected more than 100 investors, the SEC said.

Risher, 61, of Sanibel, Fla., was arrested on criminal charges by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in June. He, too, now has been charged civilly by the SEC, which noted he had been charged criminally five times since 1992 in various schemes and had spent 11 of the past 21 years in jail.

“Risher, who masqueraded as a highly successful equity trader, teamed up with Sebastian to tout sophisticated trading strategies they claimed would generate substantial profits for investors,” said Eric Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “Instead, Risher and Sebastian used investors’ life savings and retirement nest eggs to line their own pockets.”

The scheme also operated under the names of Safe Harbor Private Equity Fund, Managed Capital Fund and Preservation of Principal Fund, the SEC said.

Risher had been arrested at least four times in Georgia, and at least once in Florida prior to the 2007 launch of the Safe Harbor scheme, the SEC said.

Sebastian turned to old customers of his insurance business and recruited them into the Ponzi scheme, the SEC said.

“From 2007 through July 2010, Sebastian solicited his former insurance customers, educators, retirees, and members of several churches in Florida,” the agency charged. “During the same time period, he also solicited investors in California, other states, and Canada. Sebastian persuaded his former customers to roll over the funds in their insurance and annuity products into the Fund. He told his customers the Fund would provide a higher rate of return than they could receive from the products he had previously sold them. At least one investor liquidated an annuity she had purchased from Sebastian and invested the proceeds in the Fund.”

No registration statement was filed for any elements of the Safe Harbor scheme, the agency said.

“Throughout the fraud, Sebastian also hosted numerous annual golf tournaments and other promotional events for investors, which Risher sometimes attended,” the agency charged. “At an investor event held on March 12 through 14, 2010 at an Orlando resort, Sebastian told investors in a speech, ‘[Y]ou invest in this fund and all of a sudden you start making more money than you’ve ever made in your life with your investors. And then all of a sudden you start making enough money where you don’t have to go to work . . . [a]t Safe Harbor, you could retire today, like right now. And I’m telling you, you get rid of the struggle.'”

Read the SEC complaint.

 

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2 Responses to “BULLETIN: FLORIDA — AGAIN (UPDATE): James Risher Ponzi Scheme Used Pitchman Who Targeted Teachers, Retirees, Church Members, Golfers, SEC Says; Risher Had 5 Prior Criminal Convictions; Pitchman Daniel Joseph Sebastian Now Charged Civilly”

  1. UPDATE:

    James D. Risher has agreed to plead guilty mail-fraud and money-laundering charges:

    http://www.justice.gov/usao/flm/pr/2011/aug/20110829_Risher_Tpa_Ponziplea.pdf

    He also is known as Jay Risher.

    Patrick

      (Quote)

  2. Myself and my husband were victims of these two despicable individuals. We had been in contact with the justice department of Florida, first starting with an agent Cecilia Danger,then others. We recieved a check from the US District court on Sept 09,2014, for $203.14 and a second check from same court on February 23,2015 and have received nothing since. I would like to know if there is any more information on the victim recovery of lost funds that are available for dispersion. Thank you in advance,

    Sincerely,
    Margaret Swain

      (Quote)

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