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Crimes of Investment Fraud on the Rise

Incidents involving bad brokers or corrupt financial reps are becoming increasingly common. Most recently is the case of a mutual fund executive in Florida who promised investors early shares of Facebook and Groupon but instead used their money to buy himself lavish cars, a waterfront home and expensive jewelry.

The individual, John Mattera, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

As reported June 21 by the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan ordered Mattera to forfeit $11.8 million. An additional restitution amount will be set within the next month.

“You’ve left a lot of wreckage in your past and you have to be punished for that. These crimes were just so selfish, so callous toward the victims,” said Judge Sullivan in addressing Mattera.

Mattera was arrested in November 2011 on charges of conning more than 100 people who invested millions of dollars with his British Virgin Islands-based Praetorian Global Fund Limited. He pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy, securities fraud, money laundering and wire fraud.

One of Mattera’s victims, Marisa Light Cain, was present at Mattera’s sentencing hearing. She stated that Mattera squandered the $100,000 she had saved to pay for college for her two sons.

Mattera has four previous convictions for similar crimes in Kentucky and Florida. He has been imprisoned since his guilty plea, a proceeding that was delayed by a day when he missed his flight from Florida. He also was found in contempt in a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to the AP story.

The bottom line: Investment scams and fraudulent investments come in many forms. Falling victim to a scam can mean losing anywhere from a few hundred dollars to your life savings. At the end of the day, if the investment offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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