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Receiver Goes After $20M in Ponzi Money

PHOENIX (CN) - An online broker took more than $20 million in a Ponzi scam, a court-appointed receiver says. Owen Vilan used his OptionsXpress Web site to "engage in fictitious option trading without actually investing funds," and has been pleaded guilty to state charges of securities crimes, according to the complaint in Maricopa County Court.

Vilan and his wife used the Web site to create the appearance of options trading to induce investments. Receiver Lawrence Warfield says OptionsXpress should have investigated Vilan after a potential investor asked the site to confirm Vilan's tax statements and trading reports. An OptionsXpress employee responded that no information would be provided.

Vilan guaranteed returns of 36 percent to 48 percent per year, though he had no experience in options trading and was not licensed, Warfield says. He also did business as Vilan Enterprises and Saguaro Investments.

Vilan was sentenced to 21 years in prison in May for felony money laundering and fraud.

His wife, Lucy Vilan, is also named as a defendant in this complaint.

Warfield seeks compensatory and punitive damages. He is represented by Edwin D. Fleming with Burch and Cracchiolo.

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