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Man admits to Ponzi fraud

Business owner victimized people out of more than $15 million before he was arrested while trying to flee.

March 27, 2009|By Joseph Serna

A Newport Beach-based business owner faces up to 47 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Friday to bilking investors out of more than $15 million in a Ponzi scheme, federal officials said.

John Miller, 51, of San Clemente, pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles federal courtroom Friday to bribery, passport fraud, identity fraud and mail fraud related to his scheme.

According to prosecutors, this is how his scheme worked: Between 2000 and November 2008 Miller ran JAM Jr. Enterprises and Forte Financial Partners. Through them, Miller promised clients guaranteed returns between 10% and 18% annually if they invested in foreign currency trading, oil wells and real estate, among others. He even sent out fake monthly reports showing his victims they were making profits as expected, though in reality his scheme was crumbling. Without profits, he used new investors’ money to pay off returns for his older clients.

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Miller victimized more than 200 people out of more than $15 million until federal officials arrested him in November as he tried to arrange to flee the country, authorities said. Miller was seeking a fake passport using the name of a recently deceased high school classmate to escape the country as suspicions of his plan grew. His connection for the passport turned out to be an undercover federal official who arrested him after he handed over $5,000 for the document, prosecutors said.

Miller is scheduled to be sentenced July 20 in federal court.


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