Earl Jones, Bernard Madoff and now, two Alberta-based investment advisors, Milowe Brost and Gary Sorenson, also up to no good. The two men allegedly perpetrated a Ponzi scheme in excess of $100 million which could very well be the largest scheme in Canadian history.
According to the RCMP, Brost and Sorenson created a business, Syndicated Gold Depository S.A. and then formed a agreement to loan money to Merendon Mining Corporation Ltd. for the promise of a high rate of return. And I mean, really high return. They promised clients 35% to 40% annual returns along with tax advantages by placing their money in offshore shell companies such as: Asset Trax Inc., Quatro Communications Corp., Rapid Express Corporation, Strategic Metals Corp., and Merendon Mining (Nevada) Inc.
The RCMP estimates about 3,000 investors had their money tied up in the scheme, with little likelihood of getting their principal investment returned to them.
The RCMP arrested Brost, 55, in Chestermere, Alberta, a community close to Calgary. Sorenson, 66, is believed to be in Honduras, which does not have an extradition treaty with Canada.
They reportedly referred to themselves as “structurists” and condemned traditional investment vehicles. According to the Globe and Mail, members paid an initiation fee of about $1,700, and were then introduced to the investment scheme, where they would place money in an offshore investments”.
A Ponzi scheme works by convincing investors to invest in something that is of little to no value. The principal investment from new investors is used to pay out the promised returns to earlier investors. They usually get in trouble in market downturns when clients want their money back.
In an interview with the CBC, a couple who invested more than $300,000 with Borst and Sorensen commented that they seem so good and real. Well, Earl Jones and Madoff too were nice guys.
Your first line of defence against crooks like these is your common sense. When the promise is way too generous and the scheme complex and unusual, there is a good chance that it is simply too good to be true and you should stay away.
Maybe time to reread our previous blog post, How to protect yourself from the earl jones and bernie maddoff of the world.
How to protect yourself from the Earl Jones and Bernie Madoff of the world