HAMILTON, Bermuda, June 20, CMC – An American Ponzi scheme operator in cahoots with a Bermudian, who wired his ill-gotten gains to the island, has been jailed for six years in the United States, media here reported.
Daniel Two Feathers must also repay his victims more than US$2.4 million, US District Judge Donald Molloy ruled at sentencing.
Two Feathers, 56, of Hamilton, Montana, admitted running a scam conning cash out of investors, including $1.1 million through a front company which had accounts at the Bank of Bermuda.
Montana State Auditor’s Office had previously told how Bermudian businessman Andre Curtis helped run the scheme, in which people were falsely promised huge returns on their investments.
US Attorney Michael Cotter, of the Department of Justice, welcomed Two Feathers’ sentencing and urged investors to be wary of such scams.
“This office is pleased with the sentence imposed on Mr Two Feathers, and the accountability it represents,” Cotter said in a statement.
“It remains a sorrowful reality, however, that his victims were gulled into parting with hundreds of thousands of dollars and suffered severe financial loss.
“We cannot overemphasise the importance of vigilance in financial transactions that sound too good to be true. They usually are.
“We can prosecute the people who take your money, but it is much more difficult to get it back for you,” he added.
Two Feathers netted $1.1 million between August and September 2008 by telling investors he was running a programme producing large rates of return buying and selling US Treasury bonds.
Montana’s deputy security commissioner Lynne Egan has said Curtis, the Progressive Labour Party’s campaign manager for then-Premier Ewart Brown at the 2007 general election, helped operate the scheme by falsely promising investors the purchase of bonds would result in double and triple digit rates of return.
A separate scam, run by Two Feathers in conjunction with brokers Shawn Swor and Terrence Paulin in the first half of 2008, saw investors tricked out of $800,000 after being promised remarkable profits within 30 days.
Two Feathers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit investment fraud, investment fraud, receipt of stolen property in interstate commerce and money laundering.
Curtis has previously been fined $335,000 by the Montana Commissioner for helping run the Ponzi scheme, and jailed for 15 months by the Bermuda courts for operating an unlicensed investment business. He has not been charged by the federal courts.
Swor and Paulin have each admitted one count of investment fraud and are awaiting sentence on July 27 and September 14 respectively.