SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – An Orange County man defrauded investors, many of them elderly, of more than $6.2 million in a Ponzi scheme, federal prosecutors say. Richard H. Nickles, 57, of Irvine, was to be arraigned today (Monday) on four counts of mail fraud and two counts of securities fraud.
The SEC sued Nickles on associated charges in April. The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the filing of the criminal information on Friday. Nickles is accused of collecting more than $10 million from his alleged victims. “Nickles has been in custody since he was arrested on July 9 during a meeting with two victims at his Santa Ana office,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Prosecutors say Nickles advertised his company, co-defendant Innovative Advisory Services, in the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times.
He falsely described the investments as “U.S. Government Guaranteed,” “FDIC Insured,” “Guaranteed” or “Insured,” prosecutors said.
Nickles told his alleged victims there was a $50,000 minimum investment, but did not invest the money as promised, or used it for Ponzi payments, prosecutors said.
He also is accused of mailing out bogus “trade confirmations” investments he never made.
If convicted, Nickles faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud, and 5 years for each count of securities fraud.