Southern California breaking news and trends

Irvine man gets 12-year prison sentence for bilking investors in $10 million Ponzi scheme

Mercer 17647

Diana Henriques

Richard Nickles of Irvine took a page from "Wizard of Lies" Bernie Madoff.

An Irvine man got himself a 12-year prison sentence today for bilking $10 million out of several investors, many of them elderly people who were stripped of their life savings.

Richard Nickles engaged in a classic Ponzi scheme in which he collected investments -- nothing less than $50,000 -- that immediately were circulated back into paying off previous investments, Bernie Madoff-style. Ultimately, prosecutors said, his companies -- Santa Ana-based Innovative Advisory Services and Island Trader LLC -- lost all of their money in risky investments, leaving Nickles with nothing to pay back his victims.

Using these companies as fronts, “Nickles provided investors with false trade confirmations that identified securities he had not purchased or that were nonexistent,” the SEC alleged before Nickles finally pleaded guilty in March of last year. Ultimately he preyed upon about two-dozen victims, according to reports.


Ponzi scheme to sell milk to Disneyland lands two in jail

cows milk

Photo by matt northam via Flickr Creative Commons

No use crying over spilled securities fraud.

Two women are charged with scamming seven people out of nearly $600,000 with a bogus plan to sell milk to Disneyland. They claimed to have an exclusive contract with a dairy and the park.

The Ponzi scheme pair -- Maricela Barajas and Juliana Celeste Menefee -- entered pleas of no contest on Monday to seven counts of securities fraud, said the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Each were sentenced to three years behind bars and ordered to pay approximately $300,000 each to the victims. The Ponzi scheme (not to be confused with a Fonzi Scheme) promised investors a huge return.

Ringleader Eva Perez was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison and was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution.

The Disney/Starbucks deal is real, however.