An Illinois man will spend the next nine years in federal prison for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of more than $4 million. James Pantazelos, 64, had faced decades in prison after originally being indicted in October 2011 on ten counts of mail and wire fraud. He later agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of mail fraud, which could have landed him behind bars for twenty years. In addition to his sentence, Pantazelos will also be required to pay restitution to his victims.
Pantazelos was the owner and CEO of Destiny's Partners, Inc. ("Destiny's Partners"). From May 2007 to December 2010, Pantazelos hosted conferences throughout the United States pitching investment opportunities in Destiny's Partners. Potential investors were told that Destiny's Partners invested in “Private Investment Trading Platforms” which traded bank notes in foreign markets, and that a substantial portion of profits generated would be donated to charitable and humanitarian causes. Investors were offered a variety of investment options, with terms ranging from 90 days to 365 days and annual returns up to 200%. To convince investors that their investment would be safe, Pantazelos represented that all funds would be kept in an escrow account.
However, when the investment terms of various investors expired, investors were not provided with their original principal investment. As alleged in the indictment, instead of investing in "private investment trading platforms," Pantazelos and Destiny's Partners operated a Ponzi scheme in which funds from newer investors were used to make Ponzi-style payments to existing investors. Pantazelos also used investor funds to support an extravagant lifestyle that included the purchase of homes, expensive automobiles for himself and family members, and even attempting to open a restaurant known as "Jimmy P's".
A copy of Pantzelos's plea agreement is here.