Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Florida Couple Charged In Alleged $135 Million Ponzi Scheme

Gaston E. Cantens, 71, and Teresita Cantens, 73, of Miami, Florida, have been charged by federal authorities with running an illegal Ponzi-type investment fraud scheme that bilked investors out of as much as $135 million. Prosecutors allege the couple, who are founders and co-owners of real estate developer Royal West Properties Inc., lured investors with promises of returns of as much as 16 percent. The complaint alleges the Cantens' scheme began in 2002 when they targeted elderly investors from South Florida's Cuban-exile community while attending religious and charitable events. According to the complaint, the Cantens "portrayed themselves as a pious couple closely involved with educational and religious organizations, while in reality they were living lavishly off money from defrauded investors." Royal West Properties purports to invest in real estate lots on the western side of Florida. According to reports, Gaston Cantens served as an advisory board member for Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, and the two are parents of former state Rep. Gaston I. Cantens.

Read the story here, here and here.

Read the SEC complaint here.

Hat Tip: Reader Doug

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