The SEC unsealed civil charges today against a trio of individuals who ran a phony investment program called “.44 Magnum.”Why did they call it that?
Because, “when people found out they’d been ripped off, they would buy a .44 Magnum and shoot themselves in the head,” one of the accused testified to the SEC.
Geoffrey H. Lunn of Sheridan, Colo., Darlene A. Bishop of Odessa, Texas, and Vincent G. Curry of Las Vegas solicited investors throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries for their .44 Magnum Leveraged Financing Program, promising they could turn an investment of just $44,000 into $2 million within 10 to 12 banking days, the complaint said.
At the height of the program, they’d raised $5.77 million from unwitting investors.
Lunn admitted in sworn testimony during the SEC’s investigation that, “It was a con, basically.”
When Lunn, Bishop, and Curry were unable to repay investors after the promised 10 to 12 days, they perpetuated the scheme by repeatedly postponing the payout dates and claiming the delays were due to holds placed by banks or the government, according to the complaint.
The case gets even stranger — Lunn testified that a “one-eyed man” named “Robert Perello” was the one who named the program. But Perello may not actually exist:
Lunn claimed that Perello threatened to kill him and his family if he did not cooperate in the [scheme], and that he gave the cash he withdrew from investor funds and the Western Union transfers to Perello. Lunn is the only person who claims to have met Perello in person, saying he does not know Perello’s true identify or current whereabouts and that his only distinguishing characteristic is that he has just one eye. Despite Lunn’s assertions, no individual resembling Perello has been identified or located.
The agency is seeking unspecificed civil penalties against the three defendants.