BREAKING NEWS: Prosecutors Allege Ponzi Murder Plot; Jeffrey Lane Mowen Accused Of Soliciting Prisoner To Kill Witnesses In Multimillion-Dollar Case Against Him
EDITOR’S NOTE: In August, a poster here who defended autosurf Ponzi schemes demanded readers to “show me one time where the [U.S. government] has even started a lawsuit or ‘gone after’ a company off shore.” The post concerned the AdVentures4U (ADV4U) autosurf, which, like a number of autosurfs, claimed legal ties to Panama. Promoters said the purported ties insulated the surf from prosecution. Readers responded by providing several examples of prosecutors extending their reach beyond U.S. domestic soil to pierce the illusion of corporate veils and bring schemers to justice.
The story below is about an alleged Utah Ponzi, real-estate leveraging and forex-trading scheme in which the operator was arrested in Panama, brought back to the United States and jailed.
While Jeffrey Lane Mowen was in jail awaiting trial, the FBI said yesterday, he solicited a fellow inmate scheduled to be released in October to murder four witnesses “with the intent of preventing their attendance and testimony at his federal fraud trial” in the Ponzi scheme case.
UPDATED 4:14 P.M. ET (U.S.A.) In a case that puts more than just the financial dangers of Ponzi schemes on full display, jailed Ponzi suspect Jeffrey Lane Mowen has been indicted in Utah on charges of hatching a plot to hire a fellow prisoner to kill four witnesses in the Ponzi scheme case upon the inmate’s release from prison.
Mowen was indicted yesterday on charges of wire fraud, solicitation to commit a crime of
violence, witness tampering and retaliating against a witness. Mowen, jailed in Davis County, Utah, earlier this year after being arrested by Panamanian authorities working proactively with U.S. officials, was extradited to the United States to face the original charges in the case.
Prosecutors indicted Mowen in February under seal for the alleged Ponzi, announcing when the indictment was unsealed April 21 that he was “living outside of the United States.” He was arrested just three days later in Panama “by Panamanian authorities in conjunction with the FBI Legal Attache office,” the FBI said.
U.S. authorities said Mowen used investor funds “to purchase more than 200 high-end antique, classic, and modern vehicles, including cars, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, three-wheelers, and other vehicles.”
Mowen, 47, of Lindon, Utah, used his material possessions “as symbols of his success to investors,” the FBI said. The agency added that Mowen also used investor funds to “pay for personal expenses, including payments to himself and his [former] wife, dining expenses, vehicle storage fees, travel, utilities, and credit card expenses.”
For its part in a separate civil case, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Mowen had three prior convictions in Utah for securities fraud and two for theft. Despite Mowen’s criminal record and history as a fraudster, promoters still did business with him. Their faith drained millions of dollars from investors, the SEC said.
Using language apt to cause unease in the autosurf Ponzi world, the SEC said one promoter “either knew or was reckless in not knowing that Mowen had multiple recent felony convictions involving crimes of dishonesty.”
Indeed, the SEC said, the promoter learned in approximately late June 2007 that Mowen had been convicted of securities fraud . . . [but] continued to solicit new investor funds for several months while failing to disclose Mowen’s criminal history to any of the Promoters or their investors.”
Downstream promoters who entrusted the promoter “conducted virtually no due diligence in connection with [his] purported investment opportunities, but transferred investor money to [him] without any documentation or limitation on his use of the funds,” the SEC said.
“[T]he Promoters were reckless in failing to discover [his] association with Mowen and that their funds were being placed into a Ponzi scheme or used for other undisclosed purposes,” the SEC said.
Among the SEC’s civil allegations against Mowen were that he siphoned off $8 million in investor funds for his personal use and transferred $650,000 to his former wife, who is named a relief defendant in the case.
Authorities painted a picture yesterday of a scheme that had morphed from financial crimes that crossed international borders to murder-for-hire — all in the name of Ponzi profits.