Monday, May 7, 2012

Ponzi Scheme Fugitives Captured

According to an AP news story out this morning, US Marshals in Arizona put an end to an Illinois couple's life on the lam, a dozen years after they fled punishment for running a Ponzi scheme that targeted friends, the elderly, and even family members, authorities said.

The two were arrested by deputy marshals Saturday afternoon in Tonopah, a desert community 50 miles west of Phoenix. Officials believe they hid in Arizona for the past couple years. "The 12-year run from justice of the Hallahans, also known as the 'Mini Madoffs,' has come to an end," U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales said in a statement. "Their investment scams involving family, friends, and the elderly, ruined many lives.

The couple pleaded guilty in Illinois federal court to bank and mail fraud conspiracy charges and money laundering. They didn't show up for their sentencing and began life on the run. The government alleges that while living in Peoria, Ill., the couple promised their victims significant returns on investments,  but they were actually running a Ponzi scheme, repaying earlier investors with proceeds from new ones.

The Marshal Service said the couple netted millions of dollars from victims. As is typical of these cases, where the authorities often overstate the use of the proceeds, the government claims that the couple maintained a lavish lifestyle, buying yachts, luxury vehicles, designer clothes and jewelry.