6 Pitchmen Who Raised Funds Plowed Into Jeffrey Mowen’s Ponzi Sanctioned By SEC On Heels Of Long-Running Lawsuit; Alleged Offering Fraud’s Advertised Monthly Payout Rate 20 Times LOWER Than JSS Tripler/JustBeenPaid
UPDATED 7:43 A.M. ET (MARCH 9, U.S.A.) If ever there has been a cautionary tale for HYIP pitchmen, it is Jeffrey Lane Mowen’s Utah Ponzi scheme.
Mowen and at least six promoters ended up inspiring litigation on multiple fronts, with Mowen charged criminally. At issue was Mowen’s Forex Ponzi scheme, which allegedly was funded in part through an alleged high-yield “promissory notes” offering fraud.
Tonight, Mowen, 49, is listed as “in transit” to an unspecified federal prison. He has been jailed in the United States since he was extradited from Panama in 2009. He pleaded guilty to U.S. charges of wire fraud last year and was sentenced to 10 years.
Mowen received a merciful plea agreement in which other serious criminal charges were dropped, including solicitation to commit a crime of violence, witness tampering and retaliating against a witness.
The sidebars in the Mowen story have been every bit as compelling as the story-in-chief. Indeed, Mowen sought to shield himself in Panama when his scheme collapsed.
It didn’t work. Panamanian authorities and the FBI got him quickly.
After his return to the United States, Mowen allegedly solicited the murder of four witnesses “with the intent of preventing their attendance and testimony at his federal fraud trial” in the Ponzi scheme case.
That didn’t work. The cellmate through whom he allegedly solicited the murders was a snitch.
Other than ripping off investors and authoring a particularly ugly drama, about the only thing Mowen managed to do was create a storage problem for the U.S. Marshals Service, which had to round up and warehouse more than 200 vehicles he bought with investors’ funds.
Yes, more than 200.
But the cautionary tale doesn’t end there. Jeffrey Lane Mowen was a felon and a recidivist securities huckster. Thomas Fry, an unregistered promoter, used at least five other unregistered promoters to raise funds for “opportunities” that purported to pay a return of between 2 percent and 3 percent a month, according to the SEC.
Fry and the pitchmen were sued by the SEC in 2009. All six also now face administration sanctions from the SEC — this after the agency targeted their ill-gotten gains in the earlier lawsuit.
Failure to conduct due diligence and engaging in willful blindness were elements in the SEC’s lawsuit 2009 against the promoters, according to court filings.
“Because the Promoters not only conducted virtually no due diligence in connection with Fry’s purported investment opportunities, but transferred investor money to Fry without any documentation or limitation on his use of the funds, the Promoters were reckless in failing to discover Fry’s association with Mowen and that their funds were being placed into a Ponzi scheme or used for other undisclosed purposes,” the SEC charged at the time.
All of the pitchman now have been barred from the securities business under the terms of the administrative action. In a settlement, none of the pitchmen acknowledged wrongdoing. But the various Ponzi- and fraud-related actions were front-and-center in their lives for the better part of three years.
This common paragraph appears in each of the administrative actions against the five Fry pitchmen (italics added):
“The Commission’s complaint alleged that, from at least January 2007 through July 2008, [Pitchman's Name] offered and sold purported high-yield promissory notes to investors that he claimed would pay 2% to 3% interest monthly. The funds raised by [Pitchman's Name] were given to Thomas R. Fry who funneled those funds into a Ponzi scheme run by Jeffrey L. Mowen, a convicted felon and securities law recidivist. The Commission alleged that [Pitchman's Name] distributed private placement memoranda to investors that falsely stated that all the investors’ funds were being used to make collateralized domestic real estate loans and domestic small business loans and that misrepresented the level of his due diligence as to the investment scheme. The Commission alleged that [Pitchman's Name] conducted virtually no due diligence in connection with the purported investment opportunities and transferred investor money without any documentation or limitation on the use of the funds.”
Fry knew Mowen was a scammer, but still continued to solicit funds, the SEC said. All in all, he and the other five pitchmen raised more than $18 million for Mowen.
But the FBI said Mowen wasn’t operating a legitimate investment opportunity. What he was doing was buying exotic cars, taking personal vacations, supporting a luxurious lifestyle and making Ponzi payouts that ultimately defrauded more than 200 investors out of between $9 million and $10 million.
The purported monthly returns offered by JSS Tripler/JustBeenPaid — an “opportunity” now making its way around the web — are roughly TWENTY times higher than the scheme pitched by Fry and his promoters, according to records.
As noted above, the alleged offering fraud involving Fry and the other pitchmen was promoted on the purported basis of returns of 2 percent to 3 percent a month. JSS Tripler/JustBeenPaid advertises 60 percent a month.
Also on a monthly basis, the purported payout of JSS Tripler/JustBeenPaid is roughly between TWO and SEVEN times higher than the payout of the Ponzi scheme that put Mowen in prison for 10 years, according to records.
Mowen’s Forex Ponzi scheme scheme offered between 8 percent and 33 percent a month, federal prosecutors said last year.
It is somewhat common for HYIP purveyors who populate Ponzi boards such as TalkGold and MoneyMakerGroup to assert they have conducted “due diligence” on an “opportunity” or to assert that a “program’s” operator and/or management “team” have done so and that prospects don’t have to concern themselves with doing any legwork.
It often proves to be the case that the “due diligence” consists of GIGO — garbage in, garbage out. The promoters simply repeat the company line, rather than doing any sort of critical assessment such as questioning how an HYIP “program” operator could provide returns that may dwarf the returns of Bernard Madoff and other Ponzi schemers such as Mowen.