A federal jury in Minneapolis has convicted three men in a Ponzi scheme that pulled in $194 million.
Jason Beckman, Gerald Durand and Patrick Kiley were convicted Tuesday of money laundering, wire and mail fraud and other crimes. Prosecutors say more than 700 people suffered losses totaling $140 million.
The three men were accused of defrauding investors from 2005 and 2009 in a foreign currency trading program led by Trevor Cook. Cook previously pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion and got a 25-year prison sentence.
"They lied about who they were," said David MacLaughlin, one of the Assistant United States Attorneys who prosecuted the case. "They all claimed that they were financial experts, when they weren't. They then lied to people about a currency investment program that was purportedly run by Trevor Cook. And they lied they told about that were that this program was completely safe and that their money would be available at any time."
Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Perzel said the men duped investors into believing they could get double-digit annual returns on their investments.
"They held themselves out as savvy financial professionals on whom these investors could rely," Perzel said. "Many of these investors believed that these people were who they claimed to be and as a result overlooked that initial feeling that this was too good to be true."
Judge Michael Davis took the unusual step in a white collar crime case of jailing the defendants pending sentencing. Each of the defendants could be locked away for several decades.
The Ponzi scheme was Minnesota's second-largest, behind only the $3.7 billion fraud led by businessman Tom Petters.