HOUSTON (CN) - A Californian surrendered to face charges he ran a $10 million Ponzi scam that promised fictitious returns on purchases of shipping containers.
Dean Lester Springer Sr., 54, of Pala Desert, surrendered to federal agents and was arraigned in Houston on Monday on charges of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
Springer and co-defendant John Patrick Acord, 71, formerly of Magnolia, Texas, are charged with running the scam through their company Intermodal Wealth, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
"The company allegedly promised 13 to 16 percent per year guaranteed returns for investors who purchased shipping containers from the company," the U.S. attorney said in a statement.
"Investors would purchase the containers and the company was supposed to then lease them to others to generate income, according to the charges. However, Intermodal actually owned very few containers and none were leased."
To keep the scam afloat, Springer and Acord paid old investors with income from new investors - the hallmark of a Ponzi scam, prosecutors said.
After Texas regulators obtained a cease-and-desist order against Intermodal, Springer formed his own company, World Container, to keep the Ponzi going, prosecutors said.
If convicted, Springer and Acord face up to 20 years in federal prison and $500,000 fines.
Steven Patrick Jones, 50, pleaded guilty to his role in the scam. His sentencing is set for Dec. 18.
Springer posted bond. Acord is still in custody.
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