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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ponzi Scheme Gets Teachers

Charles Ponzi
Have you heard of James D. Risher and Daniel Sebastian?  They apparently defrauded teachers and retirees in a $22 million Ponzi scheme.  Teachers!  Teachers are at the forefront in many parts of the country teaching financial literacy! 

The men are said to have promised returns of 124% annually, according to the Securities Exchange Commission.  The M.O. appears to be boringly the usual, including false statements, getting suckers (sorry - I have to call it as I see it) to cash in annuities and participate in their "...sophisticated trading strategies."  One of the perps used his list of insurance clients.

All of this after Madoff?  You can warn people about smoking, driving without a seatbelt, investing with individuals who take custody of assets, and running in the opposite direction when performance is promised - especially when it is ridiculous.  Hopefully it gets through to some.

Obviously that's the best one can hope for.  These cases always get questions circulating through my brain for days.  Did the perps (love that word) think their scheme wouldn't come to an end?  Why 124%? Didn't the friends of the scammed laugh them out of the room when they told them what they had put their money into?  Imagine telling your next door neighbor you invested in a private equity fund that's going to get you 124%!

You try to feel sorry for people whose lives have been ruined, but sometimes it isn't easy.


  1. Made-off only promised 15% and yet he could carry the scheme for as long as he did!

    If they could believe in 124% returns, they would've believed in anything. They never had a chance. It was either these two or Nigerian scammers.

  2. re: These guys were small time. "Made-off " is in the Ponzi scheme Hall of Fame.

  3. I have to share in your bewilderment, how can someone swallow a 100%+ return on investment promise? And teachers on top of that....

  4. re:BTI I had a boss one time say "people don't know what we know". Over time I found that to be true. We assume that people know outrageous performance promises are danger signs and that excessive steady performance is impossible to guarantee but they don't.

  5. Theres a sucker born every minute!!! Who said it???