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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

$100 Million Ponzi Scheme Comes to an End

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Two Southern California men, both in their 70s, pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $100 million, federal prosecutors said.

Joel Barry Gillis, 74, of Woodland Hills, pleaded guilty Wednesday to running a 13-year-long Ponzi scam that took hundreds of millions of dollars from investors who were told their money would be used to buy profitable ATM machines, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

His cohort, Edward Wishner, 76, also of Woodland Hills, pleaded guilty on Jan. 13.

They called their business National Automated Systems Inc., and used it to bilk 2,000 victims, according to the U.S. attorney.

They "sold" their supposed ATMs for $12,000 to $19,800 apiece and promised their suckers they would get 50 cents from each transaction, and guaranteed annual returns of 20 percent.

Even as the Ponzi scheme collapsed last summer and they bounced $3 million in checks for Ponzi payments, they raised $4 million from new victims, prosecutors said.

Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. They face up to 80 years in prison at their March 30 sentencing.

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