USA TOMORROW NEWSPAPER PONZI SCHEME UNCOVERED
NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
February 18, 2009
scam artists and Ponzi scheme manipulators making headlines these days,
a new twist was discovered by investors and potential investors in what
they believed was a legitimate opportunity to invest in creating a news
organization to rival USA Today.
Jeff Lowrance is accused of defrauding investors and allegedly garnering huge amounts of money with the promise of creating a US news publication to be called USA Tomorrow.
According to the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a Ponzi scheme is essentially an investment fraud wherein the operator promises high financial returns or dividends that are not available through traditional investments.
Instead of investing victims' funds, the operator pays "dividends" to initial investors using the principle amounts "invested" by subsequent investors. The scheme generally falls apart when the operator flees with all of the proceeds, or when a sufficient number of new investors cannot be found to allow the continued payment of "dividends."
type of scheme is named after Charles
Ponzi of Boston, Massachusetts, who operated an extremely attractive
investment scheme in which he guaranteed investors a 50 percent return
on their investment in postal coupons. Although he was able to pay his
initial investors, the scheme dissolved when he was unable to pay investors
who entered the scheme later.
Lowrance, who claimed he was a billionaire from Panama, ran what is suspected to be a global con-game of enormous proportion, according to investigative journalist Ed Snook.
enticed and relieved investors from around the globe of over 60 million
dollars over the past four-years. He has recently exposed himself as
a fraud," said Snook.
Snook said that Lowrance hired the US~Observer last September to protect him from the angry investors he bilked. Lowrance reportedly believed his victims were going to travel to Panama "to exact their revenge upon him."
Officials at the US~Observer, based in Grants Pass, Oregon, state that its purpose as an Internet news and commentary organization is to keep the innocent free, the public informed, and our form of government controlled by the people.
Snook alleges that he conducted business with Jeff Lowrance in 2008 he had agreed to assist Lowrance. The one stipulation, according to the veteran journalist, was that Lowrance would run an open and honest operation. The two men signed a contract on September 18, 2008 and, according to Snook, Lowrance claimed that he had "the complete principle of every investor who had money invested with First Capital Savings & Loan (FCSL) on deposit.
Snook writes in the US~Observer that Jeff Lowrance agreed "to provide this guarantee in writing – he also agreed to provide... a complete list of his investors."
However, Snook said that he didn't receive the written guarantee until almost two months later, on November 10, 2008. Snook also received a list of investors/clients around the same time.
During a telephone interview with NewsWithViews.com, Snook said, "Lowrance owed me $150,000.00 but informed me [on September 18, 2008], that he was broke and only had $185,000.00 left besides the investor’s principle, which according to Lowrance was in a fund that could not be touched [until December 5, 2008], or he would lose a great deal of the money due to early withdrawal penalties."
Snook went on to say that Lowrance assured him that he was re-financing some condominiums he owned in Panama and that he would be paying Snook from those funds.
"At this time I advised Lowrance that he should update his investors before they became any more inflamed. I also advised Lowrance that he should tell them he would have their principle returned by January 5, 2009, because it would take him some time to acquire the money and time to wire it to investors. Lowrance agreed and sent this information via email to all his investors."
Investigation by NewsWithViews.com reveals that Lowrance had problems with officials in the state of California. The state's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency issued a "cease and refrain order" to Jeff Lowrance and his Mentor Investing Group, Inc.
to Section 29542 of the California Commodity Law of 1990, Mentor
Investing Group Inc., Jeff Lowrance and mentorinvestinginc.com are
hereby ordered to desist and refrain
from the further offer or sale of commodities, including but not limited to foreign currency contracts, or from the further offer to enter into, or from entering into, as sellers or purchasers, any commodity contracts, in the state of California, unless and until such activity is not in violation of Corporations Code section 29520 of said law."
As early as November the US~Observer began investigating Lowrance and FCSL. On November 14, 2008 Jeff sent an email to an impeccable source who said he had $42 million dollars on deposit – Snook and the US~Observer continued their investigation of Lawrence’s activities.
Snook states that he was contacted by Carlos Almos, Jeff’s FCSL manager in Panama. According to Snook, writing in the Observer, Carlos stated that he had confronted Lowrance about making restitution to the investors. According to Almos, Lowrance informed him that he wasn't about to return the money to his victims.
"This coincides with the Observers opinion that Lowrance has millions of dollars tucked away with which he refuses to part," stated Snook.
After that, 64 investors hired the US~Observer to track down and get the principal moneys allegedly stolen from them by Jeff Lowrance. According to Snook, there were over 440 people swindled by Lowrance during his USA Tomorrow scam.
US~Observer set the date of January 28, 2009, as the final date they
and Snook would accept contracts from investors and, according to Snook,
on the 29th he had a phone conversation with Lowrance.
"I confronted Lowrance with the fact that I had received calls from two new investors of his – one investor told me that he invested $200,000.00 with Jeff in October under his new program and that this investor had just learned of Jeff’s severe problems with FCSL clients," Snook wrote in his report.
According to Snook's report, at this point Lowrance had been trying to tell Snook he was broke, while mentioning not one word about the funds he supposedly had on deposit, so Snook asked him, “What about all the money from your new investors?”
According to his report, Jeff Lowrance had claimed the money was all gone and he offered to show Snook the spread sheets.
"I told him I wasn’t interested and I wasn’t interested in listening to any more of his lies," said Snook
Everyone associated with Lowrance knows or should know that he is a pathological liar. According to numerous witnesses he is currently trading large amounts of money successfully, wrote Snook.
When asked if anyone complained to the authorities, Snook told NewsWithViews.com that about 40 people reported the scam to the FBI.
"I'm not very confident in the FBI or IRS, especially since there are so many cases [of Ponzi schemes] occurring," said Snook.
According to Snook's US~Observer article, Lowrance is no longer able to travel to Panama without being arrested for financial dishonesty. The FBI and other agencies have been repeatedly contacted and informed about Lowrance and they have done nothing to date about this mess to our knowledge.
"Jeff [Lowrance] has raised about 60 million dollars over the past 4 yrs. Lowrance has a total of 440-plus people who have invested their life savings with him, some of whom have been totally destroyed. Lowrance committed fraud against me on January 5, 2009, as he was supposed to pay me the approximate $150,000.00 that he owed me," said Snook during a telephone interview.
According to the US~Observer story, Lowrance allegedly committed fraud when he sold “distributorships” to well over 100 people around the country. The distributorships were for people who wanted to make a “great supplemental living” from distributing Jeff’s now defunct newspaper USA TOMORROW.
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Jeff owes many employees their wages and some employee’s money they invested with him. Lowrance owes print and storage bills to businesses that extended him credit, wrote Snook.
"Last but not least, Jeff Lowrance owes his lovely wife and son a huge debt for deserting them in Panama," said Snook.
Ed Snook at: [email protected]