Every Ponzi scheme has to have a gimmick; something to convince marks that they’re investing in a legitimate enterprise, even when they’re being bilked of every last cent. For Bernie Madoff, it was an investment fund that offered ridiculously steady returns. For Vance Moore II and Walter Netschi it was ATMs, an incredibly prosaic setup that managed to siphon $80 million from investors who believed they were putting their money into cash machines. The only cash machine, of course, was the fund itself, which Moore and Netschi allegedly operated from 2005 to 2008.
The two men, who were scheduled to appear in court today, told investors that they would be paid out from the fees on ATMs installed in retail spots nationwide. “The phantom revenue came from new investors,” said Joseph Demarest of the FBI. “The scheme itself, until discovered, was one giant cash machine.”
Investors apparently started getting suspicious when they began looking for ATMs, and couldn’t find them. According to Bloomberg, prosecutors said that, “when one investor couldn’t find an ATM he purportedly owned in Florida, Moore told him it had been moved.”
Of course, if Moore was sharp, he could have just told the investor that the ATM had to be moved because, say, a mouse had built its nest there. Then again, we wouldn’t believe that one either.
(Photo: me and the sysop)