ANOTHER MYTH-BUSTING CASE: On The Lam From Greater Los Angeles For 5 Years, Ponzi Fugitive John Chiyuan Lee Arrested In Thailand And Extradited To The United States

CAPTURED: John Chiyuan Lee. Source: INTERPOL

One of the enduring myths of the Ponzi boards — “offshore equals safe” — has been shattered again. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says it got its man — with help from the government of Thailand, the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Ponzi scheme suspect John Chiyuan Lee became a fugitive in November 2006, when he fled Greater Los Angeles for Thailand after being identified as a thief. Victims emerged from at least four California counties — Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and Santa Clara — and at least one victim resided in St. George, Utah, authorities said.

INTERPOL published a “Wanted” notice on Lee, according to records.

The case was assigned to Los Angeles Sheriff’s Det. Simeon Plyler, who discovered at least 29 victims and used passport records and worked with ICE to track Lee to Thailand.

“ICE agents enlisted the assistance of Thailand authorities who were able to locate and arrest him in Pataya, Thailand, on October 4, 2011,” the Sheriff’s Department said. “Deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service assisted in the case by transporting Lee back to the United States from Thailand to face criminal charges.”

Lee, 40, was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and taken to the Los Angeles County Jail. Bail was set at $1.869 million, according to jail records. He remains jailed.

Victims’ losses ranged from $3,000 to $425,000, authorities said.

Residents of California communities such as Culver City, Hancock Park, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Huntington Beach, Lakewood, Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Morgan Hill, San Pedro, Shadow Hills, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Thousand Oaks, Valley Village, Van Nuys, Ventura, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles and Westwood were among the victims, authorities said.

Patch.com is reporting that Lee was a trainer at a Culver City gym — and all of his victims worked out at the facility.

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