Three Maryland men have been accused of using around 30 different companies and 55 different bank accounts to siphon around $364 million from investors. This apparent Ponzi scheme, which went on unabated for about five years, has resulted in a 14-count indictment. If convicted, then these men may serve at least a 20-year prison sentence each.
Jay Ledford, Kevin Merrill and Cameron Jezierski spawned an idea to ask investors for money to purchase various consumer debt portfolios. The team told investors they plotted to re-sell the portfolios to a third-party. While presenting their ideas to investors, the men repeatedly lied about who they were buying the portfolios from, how much they were paying for them and how much of their own funds they were contributing to the project.
After receiving the finances, Ledford, Merrill and Jezierski proceeded to spend an unreasonable amount of the money to support their own lifestyles. A reported $73 million went to luxurious homes in Nevada, Florida, Texas and Maryland, boats, jewelry, luxury cars and a piece of a share for a jet plane. The team allegedly gambled away around $25 million in various casinos.
Merrill and Ledford are facing charges including money laundering, wire fraud and identity theft. Jezierski played a smaller role in the scheme, but he still faces a potential 20-year sentence in prison. The indictment also seeks to seize nine properties, a boat, the plane shares, 26 vehicles, multiple pieces of jewelry and a life insurance policy. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also bringing a civil suit against the perpetrators.