Federal prosecutors unsealed indictments against three men alleged to have been involved in a Minnesota Ponzi scheme that took in nearly $200 million in investor assets. The men, Jason Bo Beckman, 41, Patrick Kiley, and Gerald Durand, 60, were charged with eight counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and six counts of money laundering. If convicted on all charges, the men face a maximum prison sentence of 265 years.
The three men are accused of being key players in the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Trevor Cook that purported to operate a risk-free currency-trading scheme that promised investors returns of twelve percent annually. The scheme was marketed under the name "UBS Entities," but changed the name to Oxford and Universal Brokerage FX after the Swiss Bank carrying the same name filed a trademark lawsuit. From 2005 until the scheme's exposure in July 2009, Cook's scheme took in $194 in investor contributions. According to the indictment against the three men, only $104 million of that amount was used to trade currency, of which $68 million was lost. The remaining amounts were used to pay investor returns and fund the personal and business expenses of the schemers.
Cook was sentenced to twenty-five years in federal prison in August 2010. Another associate, Christopher Pettingill, entered a guilty plea last month to charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering and is currently assisting authorities in their ongoing investigation.