McCollum fighting alleged Ponzi scheme

Nick Rees Apr. 2, 2010, 9:37am


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has obtained an injunction against a company and two individuals who are alleged to have been developing a $23 million investment Ponzi scheme.

The assets of Botfly LLC, David R. Lewalski and Jon J. Hammill were frozen. The lawsuit, filed in Pasco County Circuit Court, alleges that the defendants targeted victims with promises of high investment returns but instead spent millions of dollars on expensive personal items.

"Right now, so many Floridians are trying to make sound financial decisions and protect their families and their finances," McCollum said. "This scheme may have made offers that sounded promising, but in the end, people's futures were at stake."

Investors, the lawsuit says, were promised as much as a 10 percent monthly return on a promissory note. According to bank records subpoenaed by McCollum's office, the defendants allegedly collected more than $23 million in investments from over 550 investors, many of them Florida residents.

Of the money collected, only $11 million was returned in principal and interest payments. The remaining money was allegedly spent on personal expenses, including automobiles, a Ducati motorcycle, luxury hotels, jet charters, clothing and jewelry.

The company and its owners are prohibited by the injunction from soliciting new investments, destroying any records or documents related to their alleged scheme, or moving any assets to prevent authorities from obtaining restitution for victims.

McCollum's request to appoint a receiver to collect any remaining assets on behalf of investors to allow them to recover as much of their original investments as possible was also granted.

McCollum is running for governor.

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