Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
November 8, 2010
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Attorney General Warns Consumers of Ponzi Schemes Following Arrest of Botfly Principal
TALLAHASSEE, FL—Attorney General Bill McCollum today issued a consumer advisory following the arrest of David Lewalski for his alleged involvement in Botfly, a $30 million investment fraud scheme. Lewalski was detained by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) last Thursday.
"I am pleased that David Lewalski has been arrested for his alleged role in the Botfly investment fraud scheme,” said Attorney General McCollum. “People who engage in the deception and exploitation of innocent citizens deserve to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and I look forward to justice being served in this case."
In April, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Botfly and its principals in to stop the scheme and froze $3.8 million in domestic assets and $1.1 million in foreign accounts to preserve them for investors. Attorneys and investigators with the Attorney General’s office spent months working with the Office of Statewide Prosecution, Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), USDOJ and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to assist with the criminal investigation that led to Lewalski’s arrest.
A Ponzi scheme is a scheme in which investors are usually promised an unrealistic rate of return in exchange for an investment. It is also usually represented that the funds will be invested in such a manner that no one else knows about or has the same competence as the principals in the scheme. The funds are not invested as represented and initial investors are paid interest and principal from new investors and not from investment activity.
The scheme collapses when new investments no longer can sustain the interest and principal payments. At that point there is little left for investors to recover. If the scheme can be detected before its collapse, more funds can be preserved for defrauded investors. Ponzi schemes can continue for many years undetected before collapse as long as new investors can be recruited.
Ponzi schemes are unfortunately fairly common and are a significant problem in Florida. If you believe you have been a victim of a Ponzi scheme, please contact the Attorney General’s fraud hotline at 1-866-966-7226 or visit www.myfloridalegal.com to file a complaint.