DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that a Weld County District Court judge has sentenced Jason T. Brooks (DOB: 5/24/1979) to 32 years in prison and ordered him to pay more than $5 million in restitution for his role in a multistate Ponzi scheme.
The Statewide Grand Jury indicted Brooks in June 2009 on suspicion that he accepted more than $10 million from investors in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties and residents in 15 states outside of Colorado as part of a Ponzi scheme. Brooks took in the money to allegedly invest in an electronics resale business. Brooks, however, used new investors’ money to pay “interest” to other investors. He also used the money for personal expenses, including $1.5 million for personal gambling.
“This sentence underlines not only the severity of this Ponzi scheme, but also my office’s dedication to vigorously prosecute white collar crime in Colorado,” Suthers said. “The severity of Mr. Brooks’ scheme also should serve as a warning sign for Colorado consumers who might find themselves faced with unusual or strange-sounding investments. If an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Suthers encouraged consumers to be aware of several red flags that, according to SaveAndInvest.org and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, should tip them off that an investment opportunity could be a scam:
- Consumers should beware of investment opportunities 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 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: 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 in a securities scam, you can contact the Office of the Attorney General by calling 303-866-4500 and asking to speak to a securities fraud investigator. You also can 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).
The Office of the Attorney General obtained its indictment from the Statewide Grand Jury with the assistance of the Colorado Division of Securities.