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Tim Durham: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire?

Obsidian Enterprises and Fair Financial Services

Tim Durham is so rich he once stated during a CNBC interview that he often lost track of how many cars he actually owned. Durham runs Obsidian Enterprises and Fair Financial Services, which specialize in buying debt-ridden companies. On Nov. 24, Durham caught the attention of the FBI, which conducted dual raid on the Indianapolis and Akron, Ohio, offices of Obsidian and Fair Financial. 

The FBI did not give a reason for the raids or for questioning Durham in Los Angeles, but it’s believed the warrants have something to do with Fair Financial selling uninsured investment securities and allegedly being unable to repay investors nearly $200 million. The Indianapolis Business Journal published an investigative story on the subject last month.  

According to the IBJ article, Durham purchased Fair Financial in 2002, but has treated “it like a personal bank since.” Ohio securities filings show that Durham, partners and relative firms owe investors more than $168 million.  

On Nov. 25, Ohio Congressman John Boccieri issued a public statement calling for the federal government to seize the assets of Durham and Fair Financial as the FBI’s investigation proceeds. 

As reported Nov. 24 by, Akron resident Lou Laurich, 67, said he invested $8,000 with Fair Financial after reading ads that promised high interest rates on the company’s investment certificates.  

Fair Financial’s roots date back to 1934 when car dealer Ray Fair founded the business to provide loans to customers during the Great Depression. The company, which also does business as Fair Finance, stopped making vehicle loans in 1959 and evolved into providing second mortgages, small consumer loans, and financial investments.

The business was sold by the Fair family in 2002 to Durham. 

Meanwhile, legal questions continue to loom regarding another business where Durham has a vested interest: Los Angeles-based National Lampoon, Inc. The film company, which is best known for “Animal House” and the “Vacation” film series, has found itself in financial straits since last December, when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed civil fraud charges against it and a grand jury indicted then-CEO Dan Laikin on charges of stock manipulation. 

Laikin pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy in exchange for prosecutors dropping a count of securities fraud. Durham, who was not implicated in the criminal case or named in the SEC’s civil lawsuit, currently serves as National Lampoon’s acting CEO. ? 

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