Interpol_logoOf all the scams on all the scammy websites in all the world, the scammiest has to be when the elderly are targeted to divest them of their life savings. We’re not sure what happens to old folks, who were obviously once savvy enough to amass some degree of financial security, that makes them vulnerable to unknown cold callers wanting “investment” funds, but it seems to be a universal problem.

And now New York attorney Larry Hartman has been charged, arrested and will be deported back to the U.S. to face charges of bilking elderly investors in the UK and Ireland out of major funds to buy shares in shell companies that didn’t even exist. Said scam occurred between 2004 and 2008, and Hartman recently tried to enter Nicaragua illegally, apparently aware that Interpol was on his tail.  Unfortunately for him, his story while trying to secure a passport from the Central American country sounded fishy to immigration officials, who busted him for presenting false documents; and it went downhill for him from there.  Now he’s on his way to Florida to face formal charges, which presumably will come from both sides of the pond and Interpol, which interfaces with law enforcement in 190 countries worldwide from its Lyon, France headquarters.

Shell Game

The scam, which was run out of Florida, involved stealing the financial security codes and trading symbols of 54 companies that had gone dormant; somewhat akin to stealing the identity of a dead person in identity theft, but on a grander commercial scale.  Using this data, Hartman and his colleagues created “new” companies that appeared to be publicly traded, but which in actuality, of course, did not exist.  Using that information, the hustlers then cold-called elderly Brit and Irish folks with investment backgrounds,  and somehow managed to talk them into buying (non-existent) shares in one of the companies.

The 2009 indictment of Hartman and two other attorneys accuses Hartman of having “caused the preparation and transmission of worthless stock certificates and related correspondence sent to victim-investors outside the United States, and caused the transmission of victim-investors’ funds to accounts in his name, the name of a family member, and the names of entities he controlled.”

Just one such transaction involved wiring $132, 500 to a Costa Rican bank; the total amount of money stolen is estimated to be in the $100 million range.

BetUS Tie-In

Adding to the drama is the fact that Hartman is the former CEO of Angelciti Group, an outfit that earned a bad rep for refusing to pay out large online jackpots when they hit back in the early 2000’s. Angelciti was connected to BetUS, an online sportsbook operation for which Hartman also acted in a consulting capacity at one time; BetUS has also been accused of not paying its customers in a timely fashion, or even at all, on various occasions.

This insider knowledge of BetUS’s operations may be Hartman’s best shot at minimizing his punishment for the money laundering and fraud charges he now faces.  Just depends how much singing this vulture wants to do for the Feds  and Interpol.