2010-11-11 / Local & State

Pa. Man Charged In $17 Million Ponzi Scheme

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A businessman who authorities describe as a repeat offender in securities fraud was arrested Friday and charged with overseeing a $17 million Ponzi scheme.

Robert Stinson Jr. of Berwyn fleeced more than 260 investors over the past four years while claiming to operate several real estate hedge funds, according to a federal indictment.

The funds boasted returns of up to 16 percent a year, but authorities allege that Stinson diverted most of the money for personal use, including expensive cars, meals and vacations.

Some investors who received “dividends’’ from funds managed by Stinson’s company Life’s Good Inc. were actually paid using money from new clients, the indictment said.

Stinson also lied to investors about having degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Penn State University, and falsely claimed big experience in currency trading, investment management and other businesses, authorities said.

In addition, Stinson concealed previous fraud convictions and two bankruptcy filings, according to the indictment. He was also the target of fraud complaints by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1990 and this past June.

On June 29, the FBI raided several of Stinson’s business locations and seized two Mercedes bought with proceeds from the alleged scheme. Stinson then obstructed justice by wiring money out of Life’s Good accounts, authorities said.

Stinson was charged with fraud, money laundering, obstruction and other offenses. His attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.

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