Monday, July 27, 2009

Yachtzi Scheme

As further evidence supporting the claim that you can sell anything to 3% of the population, the WSJ reports that an outrageous Ponzi scheme may be unraveling in southern California (thanks, Kevin Butler, for the pointer). The focus of the Ponzi scheme? Yachts:
Investors say they were lured by “boat deals.” The plan was for Mr. Fitzgerald to buy boats on the cheap, sell them to buyers he had prearranged and record a hefty profit.

One investor said he earned $4,000 on a $20,000 investment in four weeks. Profits were rolled into the next deal. The investor says he is now out $120,000–$100,000 of which was financed with a home-equity loan.

Client money held in escrow accounts by Mr. Fitzgerald for the purchase of high-end yachts has been cleaned out. Authorities say total losses could be in the millions of dollars.

The case goes to show that even during a global financial crisis, investors are again so hungry for returns they were blind to clear risks. Some investors put money with the broker just two months ago.

Buying boats and re-selling them for quick profit at a time when boat-sales have crashed? It almost make postage stamps sound sophisticated.

I guess this serves as a stark reminder of the need for common sense and skepticism when attempting to avoid fraud...

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