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3 Convicted In Minnesota Ponzi Scheme

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A jury found three men guilty Tuesday in a $194 million Ponzi scheme that victimized more than 700 people.

Jason “Bo” Beckman, Gerald Durand and Patrick Kiley were convicted on a variety of charges including money laundering and wire and mail fraud. Federal marshals immediately took all three into custody. They were accused of defrauding investors from 2005 to 2009 in a foreign currency trading program led by Trevor Cook, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to fraud and tax evasion and is serving 25 years.

Cook and the others told investors they were using a foreign currency trading system that promised annual returns of 10 percent or better. In fact, prosecutors said, Cook lost millions trading currency and the scheme needed new money constantly to stay afloat.

The Ponzi scheme was Minnesota’s second largest, behind only the $3.65 billion fraud that Wayzata businessman Tom Petters was convicted of orchestrating. While the Petters scheme mostly targeted hedge funds, Cook’s scheme heavily targeted conservatives. Kiley and Durand pitched it on a Christian shortwave network and talk radio stations, while Beckman solicited investors among the wealthy clients of his investment advisory company.

Prosecutors said Beckman also attempted to defraud the National Hockey League as part of the scheme with a failed effort to buy a $5 million piece of the Minnesota Wild in 2009.

The mostly elderly victims have little chance of recovering more than a few pennies on the dollar.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis did not immediately set a sentencing date.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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