Whenever an investment opportunity is billed as too good to pass up, your wallet usually suffers. But the real tip-off of an investment you should never make has two words attached to it: no risk.
Scheme victim Nathan Amsden thought he had a ticket out of working four part-time jobs. He spend years saving so he could start making modest investments to prepare for his children's college education. Then Amsden met Bill Orestis, who began laying the groundwork to lure Nathan into an investment scheme.
"What they were saying is they wanted to put a pool of people together to pool all their money together so they can get into the market to trade the Euro," said U.S. Postal Inspector, Dan Forristal.
Amsden said Orestis was persuasive and offered to put money in himself.
"If I come up with 15, and you come up with 5, that will close the deal and cause the market is going really crazy right now and I want in on this," Amsden said. "So he hooked me in, we closed that deal, I came up with $5,000 and he gave me a note, a personal note promising to pay me back."
Consumer Alerts says Orestis showed Amsden documentation illustrating what appeared to be the investment's track record.
"The victims would have a chance to look at what looked like real documentation from a website that is real from a company that actually traded the Euro and it would look like there were profit margins when in fact no money had been traded," said Forristal.
Amsden was not a long. There were 18 victims who lost most $1.4 million dollars in this scheme. By the end, Amsden had invested $60,000.
"It was all I had... all I had saved up for the girls' education. Life insurance policy, the college fund, everything in cash, everything in the checkbook," Amsden said. "At that point that was the end of our dealings because I had nothing left, he knew I had nothing left."
Forristal said, "The worst part of the whole investigation, was when they had the opportunity to take money they wouldn't take 'most' of someone's money - they would take 'all' of their money until there was no money left. It was never ending, they made sure to take every penny they could from people."
Forristal added, "The big thing we always see is "no risk" the term investment in general implies risk. They go side by side. There is no investment you can make that doesn't have risk.