Typically our Ponzi Scheme reports come to us from farther afield. But this latest Ponzi Scheme happened in our own backyard… According to an announcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Wayde McKelvy and his co-conspirators ran an elaborate Ponzi Scheme through a company called Mantria Corporation, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
$54 Million in Philadelphia Area Ponzi Scheme
McKelvy and his cohorts allegedly promised investors huge returns, up to a whopping 484%, with little to no risk. The Greater Philadelphia Ponzi Scheme received more than $54 million in investor funds which they were supposed to invest in real estate and green energy. Instead, Mantria Corporation took money from new investors and used it to pay “returns” to earlier investors. This is the classic Ponzi Scheme structure.
“Speed of Wealth” Grinds to a Halt Thanks to SEC Bust
In order to lure investors, McKelvy touted himself as some kind of financial genius, even though he had little financial expertise and was not a licensed securities salesperson. McKelvy genius was actually in his marketing. He appeared on numerous TV, radio, and internet ads and created the so-called “Speed of Wealth” clubs that promised to make investors rich at the speed of light.
According to a US Attorney working on the case, “McKelvy repeatedly lied about Mantria’s bright future in the green energy business, often delivering his sales pitch before a live audience full of prospective investors in order to dupe as many people as he could into investing in the company. McKelvy and his co-conspirators talked a big game, promising investment returns as high as 484 percent – but it was all a ruse,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Instead of high returns, the over 300 victims of this fraud unwittingly invested in uninhabitable land and a bogus trash-to-green energy business idea based on bogus scientific methodology. We are pleased that the jury held McKelvy accountable for his part in this massive fraud.”
Typical Ponzi Scheme Characteristics
While on the surface it can be very hard to tell the difference between a legitimate Ponzi Scheme and a real investment opportunity, there are certain tell-tale signs to watch out for that may indicate you’re looking at something less than real:
Returns that seem “too good to be true”
High returns with little to no risk
Irregular account statements
Principals with checkered professional backgrounds
Unlicensed securities salespeople
Gimmicky investment strategies