Friday, September 20, 2013
Your Money: Think you are a fraud victim? Get to work
Erin E. Arvedlund Published Friday, September 20, 2013, 1:09 AM
If you think you have been scammed in a fraudulent investment, Ingrid Robinson has advice for you.
Ingrid Robinson: “Prove there’s more than one victim. I got online. . . .”
Start building your case right away, and don’t give up.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia in May indicted Matthew McManus, of Glenside, and Andrew Bogdanoff, and his son, Aaron, on federal fraud charges connected with their Remington Financial Group loan brokerage.
The Bogdanoffs have pleaded guilty. McManus has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial Oct. 28.
Robinson, 67, who resides in California, invested with Remington in 2007 and didn’t realize the outfit was a fraud until she arranged for a loan. She provided Remington $10,000 as an advance fee on a much larger loan she sought, but the company gave her no loan and kept her money.
Remington’s average investor lost $25,000, and Robinson found 800 more victims in the United States and other countries. Prosecutors so far have tallied $26 million in losses.
These days, Robinson is pursuing legislation to regulate commercial brokers, the way mortgage brokers and securities brokers are regulated.
Such schemes proliferate on smaller scales.
“Here in the Philadelphia area, the likes of Robert Brennan, Joe Forte, and Tony Young have pleaded guilty to stealing millions from friends, families, social acquaintances, pension funds, churches, schools, nonprofit organizations,” says Leon LaRosa Jr., director of La Salle University’s Fraud and Forensic Accounting Institute.
How to proceed, if you believe you are a victim?
Do your homework. “You need evidence. Prove there’s more than one victim. I got online and found blogs where people were complaining about Remington,” Robinson said, websites such as RipoffReport.com, Scambook.com, and MortgageGrapevine.com.
Enlist other victims. “I found investors in every state,” Robinson said. “That’s when I got the attention of the authorities. Remington thought the government would never connect the dots with individuals.”
Start with local law enforcement, a state attorney general, or a U.S. Attorney’s Office, and then the FBI. “Remington didn’t fall under [the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] jurisdiction. It was not a securities fraud and yet there were victims all over the nation,” Robinson said.
Little people can beat the bad guys. “The nobodies like me are the ones who do it,” she said. “The government works for me and I knew about a crime. I needed to find the agency that would do their job.”
Friday, September 20, 2013