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Karen Scullin ReportingAt least 21 people are victims of an alleged ponzi scheme that scammed investors out of some two million dollars. A Bluffdale couple is accused of heading up the scheme that promised a big return on their investment, but never came through.
A spokesperson with the department of Commerce says ponzi schemes lure victims in that all have something in common; often it's a group that belongs to the same church, but in this case the victims all sold Amway products, although Amway is in no way connected to the alleged fraud.
Individually the victims lost anywhere from two thousand dollars to 150 thousand dollars, but all together they lost two million dollars.
The suspects are Bluffdale residents Gerald and Deann Jones. Law enforcement officers say the couple was running a Utah division of a bigger ponzi scheme out of California.
It worked like this: the couple told investors their money would be sent to a California Company that needed the cash to buy accounts from an Asian glove manufacturer. Promissory notes were issued promising a return of principal plus fifteen percent. Actually it was all a front for a ponzi scheme in which the scammers pay off old investors with new investor money.
Officials want to get the word out that these scams are becoming more and more common.
Michael Hines, Utah Dept. of Commerce: “The selling mechanism is very often an affinity where people trust each other because of that organization of affiliation they have in common.”
Some of the charges the Jones' are facing include seven counts of second-degree securities fraud and one count of a third degree securities fraud. Each count holds a possibility of significant prison time.
Police say evidence shows the couple was using at least part of the invested funds for personal expenses.
Officials do believe there are more victims. If you think you may have been hit, call the department of commerce at 530-6600.