BULLETIN: 2 Michigan Men Arrested In Alleged Ponzi Scheme Targeting Senior Citizens; Jeffrey Ripley, Danny Lee VanLiere Charged With Racketeering, Jailed; 96 Felony Counts Filed Against Men And Their Company

Jeffrey Ripley: Source: Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.

BULLETIN: A joint investigation by offices of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Commissioner Kevin Clinton of the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation has led to criminal charges of racketeering against two men accused of targeting the elderly in a $9 million Ponzi scheme.

Charged in the alleged caper were Jeffrey Ripley, 59, of Sparta, and Danny Lee VanLiere, 60, of Grand Rapids, authorities said. The alleged scheme operated through an entity known as API Worldwide Holdings LLC.

At least 140 victims were fleeced out of about $9 million in the scam, which operated between July 2006 and January 2012, authorities said.

Ripley and VanLiere tracked the maturation dates of Certificates of Deposit held by victims “so they could make contact and persuade the victims to transfer the funds to API Worldwide immediately after the CD matured,” authorities said.

Danny Lee VanLiere: Source: Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.

Some of the elderly victims lost their life savings to the scheme, authorities said, characterizing the product offered to them as “fake securities” that promised “high returns.”

“Financial scams devastate the lives of citizens who worked so hard to provide for their families,” said Schuette. “Crimes against the elderly are on the rise, and those who target Michigan seniors will face the toughest penalties under the law.”

Ripley and VanLiere are charged with one felony count each of racketeering, six counts felony counts each of false pretenses and 25 felony counts each of violating the state’s Securities Act. The company is charged with the same crimes.

Ripley was arrested by the Michigan State Police Fugitive Team. VanLiere surrendered to authorities after Ripley’s arrest. Both men are listed a prisoners at the Ottawa County Jail.

Losses among victims ranged between $3,000 and $600,000, authorities said.

“Michigan consumers should give us a call before entering into an investment and we will run a check on any broker, advisor or product,” said OFIR’s Clinton.

All in all, the alleged caper led to the filing of 96 felony counts.

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