Man Sentenced in Ponzi Scheme

A Palo Pinto County man has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for a Ponzi scam that cost investors at least $2.6 million and involved the sale of nonexistent bank-related investments.

Ronald Keith Owens, 73, was handed the sentence Friday in 209th state District Court, the Texas State Securities Board announced in a news release.

The state sentence followed a 63-month federal sentence Owens received last month in Dallas.

Owens, who was based in Mineral Wells, convinced investors to put money into "Bank Credit Instrument Trading" investments that were allegedly located in Nassau, Bahamas, Germany and Switzerland. Owens claimed that he had access to so-called prime banks, allowing him to purchase special financial instruments on behalf of investors, according to the news release.

"Investors should be aware there are no such things as 'prime banks' that pay sky-high returns on exotic-sounding investments," Texas Securities Commissioner Denise Voigt Crawford said. "A simple rule of thumb is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is -- or at least it is an investment opportunity that requires a lot of due diligence by potential investors."

Owens promised investment returns of up to 30 percent a month but was operating a Ponzi scam by paying early investors with money raised from newer investors. Owens also used investors' money to pay business expenses and his and his wife's personal expenses.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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