Investment training, tsunami video, Ponzi scheme: Your weekly ScamWatch
This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.
A roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.
Investment training –- A man who allegedly fleeced investors out of millions of dollars by charging exorbitant fees for a worthless investment training program has agreed to pay more than $900,000 to settle a judgment that the Federal Trade Commission obtained against him. The FTC sued John Stefanchik and his company, Beringer Corp., in 2004, alleging that the investment training program he promoted out of Seattle was fraudulent. Stefanchik had promised to help consumers make $10,000 per month buying and selling mortgages, but investors who paid up to $8,000 for the program typically lost money, the FTC said. A federal judge ordered Stefanchik to pay more than $17 million in 2007. To settle that judgment, Stefanchik agreed to pay $900,000 and to give the FTC proceeds from the sale of his house and other property, the FTC said. The FTC has cautioned consumers that many work-at-home schemes are fraudulent.
Father and son -- Federal agents are seeking the public’s help in tracking down an Orange County father-and-son team accused of stealing more than $20 million from 300 investors. Robert Louis Carver, 56, and his son, Robert Louis Carver II, 36, were indicted Wednesday on 14 charges related to investments they raised through a series of companies, Brookstone Capital, Brookstone Biotech Ventures II and Lincoln Funds International, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release. Prosecutors alleged that the Carvers misled investors by failing to disclose that the elder Carver had a criminal record and was subject to a court order prohibiting him from serving as an investment advisor or broker. The pair told investors that they could obtain “significant, long-term capital appreciation” through biotechnology investments, but misappropriated investor funds and caused them to lose $20 million, prosecutors said. Postal inspectors asked anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the Carvers to contact the Postal Inspection Service.
Tsunami video -- The Better Business Bureau is cautioning Facebook users not to follow a link entitled, “Japanese Tsunami RAW Tidal Wave Footage.” The link directs users to a malicious Internet site that asks for users’ personal information, the BBB said in a recent bulletin.
Ponzi scheme –- The FBI has arrested a Pasadena man suspected of operating a $3.5-million Ponzi scheme. Steven Yamashiro was arrested Friday, two days after a federal grand jury indicted him on eight counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. The indictment alleged that Yamashiro operated several companies, including Capital Analyst, through which he promised to place investments for clients, federal prosecutors said. Instead of putting the money in stocks, bonds and other investments, Yamashiro used the money to pay personal expenses and to make interest payments to early investors, prosecutors said.
For the record, 8:11 p.m. April 27: A previous version of this post said Cambridge Investment Research was among the companies Steven Yamashiro operated. In fact, Yamashiro was an independent contractor who sold securities for the firm from November 2002 until February 2006. He did not own or operate the company.
-- Stuart Pfeifer