American wanted for $2 million Ponzi scheme captured in Pattaya

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Immigration police in Pattaya captured an American wanted for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 37 people out of the equivalent of 60 million baht.

John Chi Yuan Lee, 40, was apprehended Oct. 4 while walking through Central Center mall in North Pattaya. Police said the Taiwan native was traveling under a false identity and had four fake passports.

Lee was wanted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Interpol on a Los Angeles arrest warrant for allegedly defrauding investors in his Beverly Hills, Calif. firm Legacy International, which purported to trade securities with a 25 percent annual return.

The run is over - John Chi Yuan Lee has been arrested for running a Ponzi investment scheme. The run is over – John Chi Yuan Lee has been arrested for running a Ponzi investment scheme.

According to a 2006 cease-and-desist order from the California Department of Corporations, Lee took about $3 million in investments from 45 “unsophisticated” individuals, telling them he was an experienced trader and could guarantee a return of 25 percent on their investments in a portfolio of U.S. and international securities.

What he didn’t tell them, the court order stated, was that he lacked any sort of investment background, used the money for personal gain and paid out any “returns” to investors with funds collected from newer investors. Legacy International had its business licenses suspended in 2002 and 2003, but continued to collect funds from investors through 2006.