A father and his three sons are behind bars after swindling investors out of nearly $175 million dollars in a ponzi scheme.
Investigators say the scam is all too common.
United States Postal Inspector Walter Swayze says, "They lived the high life, they tooled around in private jets, they bought yachts, they bought Ferraris ski boat /the country club life was on other peoples dime. They didn't earn a bit of it"
"They" are the Rand family who owned Aspen Exploration and duped investors into financing the drilling and operation of several oil wells in Texas. There were promises of riches, a 40% return, maybe more and investors would be set for life. But the only people making money were Tony Rand and his sons Greg, Bill and Mark.
Swayze says, "They were trying to raise money for the new well just to finish the old well which pretty much turned it into a Ponzi scheme and that's how we got them."
Postal investigators began tracking the money Aspen Exploration was raising and found it wasn't all going to drilling oil wells.
"When they started spending money on yachts and buying Ferraris and houses instead of drilling wells that they told people they were going to drill, I guess that is pretty much where they crossed the line."
Agents say more than 200 victims lost over $175 million dollars in this scheme.
"You get angry seeing the high life these people live on other people's money. You also feel bad with the people you interview for victims. They are embarrassed, they took their life savings or their families security out and trusted these people that they were going to be set for life when all they were doing is ripping them off. "
Consumers need to remember all investments carry risks and be aware of extravagant promises of returns.
"If it's too good to be true - then it's too good to be true. Check it out further."
The Rands, along with one other person, pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme and each face many years prison time. They have also been ordered to pay nearly $100 million dollars in restitution.
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