Montana Becoming a Ponzi Hot Spot?

Is your pastor introducing you to investments? If so, you need a new pastor.

“Fraud aimed at religious groups is so virulent and effective that the only safe course is to refuse to consider any investment pitched by even a subtle appeal to your faith.” — The Vigilant Investor, p. 104

We track the states in which the investment scams that we write about were headquartered. No state is unrepresented on the list, but some took longer to make the list than others. Montana was late to the dance, but has added three stories of investment frauds in the past six months. The latest involves allegations of a classic Ponzi scheme coupled with a classic affinity fraud. According to the Lawton-Constitution:

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Two Feathers Pleads Guilty to International Con

The more investment scams that you’ve read about, the easier it will be to protect yourself.

“Like stand-up comedians, prime bank scamsters change their material to appeal to those who may have seen the act before.”  The Vigilant Investor, p. 61.

What does Hamilton, Montana have in common with Hamilton, Bermuda? Both were cites of investment swindles run by Dan Two Feathers. Two Feathers admitted his crimes in federal court in response to an indictment charging him with several counts of conspiracy and fraud. According to KAJ18.com: (more…)

Trial Set for Accused Montana Madoff

I don’t care if your 90-year-old grandmother is the salesperson.

Polson, Montana sits at the southern end of Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana. The town is known for cherry orchards and the lake, which is the largest natural freshwater lake in the western U.S..  If federal prosecutors have their way, it’ll soon be known as home to the biggest Ponzi scheme in Montana history. According to the Lake County Leader: (more…)

Restitution Numbers Highlight a Very Dangerous Investing Landscape

Investment fraud is the one industry that never slumps.

I give speeches all over the country about investment fraud and the due diligence tactics necessary to expose it. One of the things people want to know is just how big the problem really is. I tell them that the FBI estimates that Americans lose $40 billion every year to investment fraud. That’s two Madoff’s worth of losses every year.  And that number doesn’t begin to tell the story, because it is drawn from criminal prosecutions. Most investment crime is never prosecuted. The real number is much closer to $100 billion every year. Think of it as five Madoff mega-frauds worth of losses every year. (more…)

Where Business is Moral and the Miraculous is Routine

Scam artists love to recruit early investors to spread the word about the investment.

According to California prosecutors, David Arnold Souza chalked up his supposed investing prowess to the “obvious favor of God,” and used the slogan ‘Where Business is Moral and the Miraculous is Routine.”  According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Souza took more than $1 million from 28 investors by claiming to be able to use his miraculous ability to generate attractive returns through securities trading.  According to a story in the Redding Record Searchlight: (more…)

Former Montana Stockbroker Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme Charges

The FBI reports that Americans lose $40 billion every year to investment fraud. But that figure will not motivate anyone to act. It is a sterile number that does not communicate the humiliation, misplaced guilt, and real world consequences to the victims of investment fraud.

Angela Brandt of the Helena Independent Record has been following the story of Arthur Leroy Heffelfinger (Heffelfinger) a former stockbroker with KMS Financial Services Inc. (KMS).  Last week Brandt reported that Heffelfinger has pled guilty to two felony charges arising from the eight-year, $2 million Ponzi scheme he ran from his KMS office.  In her story about the guilty plea Brandt writes: (more…)

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