‘American Greed’ Producing Episode On Trevor Cook Ponzi Fraud; Seniors, People Of Faith Fleeced By Cook And His Pitchmen

Trevor Cook

Trevor Cook

CNBC’s “American Greed” will be in Minneapolis today to begin filming an episode on the massive Trevor Cook Ponzi scheme that was targeted at senior citizens and conservative Christians and rendered some victims penniless, a source told the PP Blog.

Cook’s scheme gathered about $194 million. It collapsed in 2009. Money that potentially could go to victims is still missing. The scheme was reminiscent of the AdSurfDaily Ponzi case in that it took various bizarre and disturbing turns.

Earlier this month, Cook pitchman Jason Bo-Alan Beckman was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. Gerald Durand received 20 years. Christopher Pettengill, who cooperated with prosecutors, received a 90-month sentence. Sentencing for Pat Kiley, a conspiracy theorist and former radio host in his seventies, was put on hold, pending the results of medical and psychological exams.

Cook, the ringleader, received a 25-year sentence in 2010.

For what the Cook fraud lacked in dollar volume — indeed, it was significantly smaller than Tom Petters’ epic Ponzi fraud in Minnesota — it more than made up for in pure brazenness. Beckman essentially was accused of taunting victims in his court filings after stealing millions from a senior-citizen couple in their late eighties. Durand told a tale about a submersible submarine Cook allegedly bought on eBay for the waters of Canada before moving it to Panama, where Cook purportedly found the conditions to be more sub-friendly.

Kiley once tried to have a CFTC lawyer fined $1,000 for filing court papers Kiley deemed “offensive.”

The Cook scheme also had something in common with AdViewGlobal, the collapsed 1-percent-a-day autosurf linked to the AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme: a tie to offshore facilitator KINGZ Capital Management Corp.

AdViewGlobal announced its purported tie to KINGZ on May 4, 2009, the same day the Obama administration announced a crackdown on offshore fraud. KINGZ denied any tie to AVG. But the National Futures Association (NFA) established a tie between KINGZ and Cook.

AdViewGlobal collapsed during the summer of 2009, amid reports that millions of dollars had been stolen. The purported “opportunity” bizarrely declared itself a “private association” operating in Uruguay, apparently in a bid to evade U.S. regulatory scrutiny even though it was conducting business in the United States. Federal prosecutors tied ASD President Andy Bowdoin to AdViewGlobal in 2012. Bowdoin, now serving a 78-month prison sentence, once claimed that prosecutors were “Satan” and compared the U.S. Secret Service to the 9/11 terrorists. His scheme gathered at least $119 million.

Prosecutors have evidence that suggests at least some of the AdViewGlobal money was deposited in Switzerland. The Cook Ponzi also did business in Switzerland.

There also is a tie between Trevor Cook and Peregrine Financial Group Inc., the collapsed fraud scheme of Russell R. Wasendorf Sr., now facing up to 50 years in federal prison. Wasendorf once was a member of NFA’s Futures Commission Merchant Advisory Committee

Peregrine consumed at least $215 million and conducted a scam for two decades, prosecutors said. “[I]n order for the fraud to be effective and sustainable for years, defendant routinely created and used false certifications and forged documents to deceive his customers, his accounting department, his fellow corporate officers, an outside auditor, and multiple regulatory agencies whose core function was to detect and prevent exactly the type of criminal activity defendant perpetrated,” prosecutors said of Wasendorf.

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