(CN) - A man from a Phoenix suburb swiped $5.2 million from 2,500 people in a Ponzi scam, the SEC claims in Tyler, Texas, Federal Court. Paul D. Poetter claimed he owned a lucrative cocoa processing plant in Africa, a "nuclear waste disposal process," and a financial services company in Switzerland, among other things, and acquired suckers through a Baptist church, according to the complaint.
Poetter, of Gilbert, Ariz., sent "millions of dollars" to other entities he controlled, grabbed $300,000 off the top, spent only $1.3 million to buy assets, according to the complaint.
He sold shares in 4309 Inc., "a reporting shell company," then offered to exchange them for shares of AMs-Tec Acquisitions, "a purported Arizona entity that Poetter claimed had a 'projected value of $13.5 billion'" and was qualified to trade on a Swiss stock exchange, according to the complaint.
He claims that AMs-TEC owned an African cocoa processing plant "with negotiated contracts to process over $120 million worth of cocoa," and also owned "proprietary technology" for a "high-speed, electrically-powered, nationwide cargo transportation system, a nuclear waste disposal process, and the acquisitions of a working farm ... and a Swiss financial services firm.
Poetter began the scam in June 2007 by targeting members of an East Texas Baptist church; his first victims then recruited family and friends for him, the SEC says.
Also named as defendants are 4309 Acquisition Trust, AMS-TEC Commodities, AMS-TEC Energy Corp., Greener Cleaner Farms and Robocargo Corp.
The SEC seeks disgorgement, appointment of a receiver, and an injunction.