DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Colorado Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph announced today that Douglas County District Court Judge Vincent White has sentenced Mark H. Polunci (DOB: 5/16/1957) to seven years in prison for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme.
Polunci, indicted in October 2008, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud, a class-three felony, in April. According to his indictment, Polunci acquired $1.3 million from six investors between January 2005 and August 2006 by offering his victims high rates of return on their investments, ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent. During that time, however, Polunci simply used other investors’ deposits to pay “interest” on the investments. Polunci also failed to disclose his financial history and other facts about the “investment opportunity” he had pitched to his victims.
“The sentence by the court was a strong statement to would-be white collar criminals,” Joseph said. “Colorado is a bad place to cheat investors. Scam artists will be caught, prosecuted and sent to prison.”
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“Surveys have shown that those most likely to fall for investment scams are often those who either known or think they know the most about investments,” Suthers said. “Whether you are a day trader or new to investments, there are several simple steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to Ponzi schemes and other scams. Taking the time to ask the right questions at the time you are pitched an investment opportunity could save you and other possible victims of investment fraud hundreds if not thousands of dollars”
According to SaveAndInvest.org and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation:
- Consumers should beware of investment opportunities that are offered for a limited time only. Legitimate investment opportunities should not require a decision in a matter of hours.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Investments offering large returns with virtually no risk simply do not exist. There are no sure things in the investment world.
- If the person pitching you on an investment is unregistered with FINRA that should send up a red flag. You can check out brokers: http://www.finra.org/Investors/ToolsCalculators/BrokerCheck/index.htm.
- When a broker or person pitching you on an investment cannot describe how a fund or investment product works, that, too, should be a warning sign. Someone selling you an investment product or opportunity should be able to clearly describe how it works and the associated risks.
- An investment should always have accompanying documentation. If an investment product or opportunity does not have documentation or a stock ticker symbol, it might be a scam.
If you believe you have been defrauded, you should contact the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Securities (303-894-232) and the Securities and Exchange Commission Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (1-800-732-0330 or 202-772-9295).