U.S. Department of Justice|
Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California
United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs|
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947
Los Angeles, CA - A federal jury in Los Angeles this afternoon convicted a Florida man of 11 felony counts related to a scheme in which he pitched a fraudulent investment program to members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and collected more than $6.5 million from over 250 victims.
Winston George Ross, 57, of Apopka, Florida, was found guilty of two counts of mail fraud, five counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering.
The evidence presented during a weeklong trial in United States District Court in Los Angeles showed that Ross operated a company called 4J Financial Services LLC and that he made a series of presentations to members of the Church and other potential victims across the United States. During his seminars, Ross encouraged attendees to incorporate themselves so they could avoid paying federal income taxes. For a fee of $600, Ross would assist in preparing paperwork to become incorporated.
At his presentations, Ross also promoted three investment programs. For two of the investments, Ross acted as a middleman, collecting money that would be invested by others. But the third program, the "10% Program," was managed by Ross out of his Apopka residence. Ross told investors that the 10% Percent program was completely risk-free and it provided guaranteed returns of at least 10 percent a month for 15 months. Investors who deposited more than $100,000 would be paid 12 percent a month, those who invested more than $300,000 were guaranteed 15 percent a month. Ross encouraged victims to refinance their homes or to take cash advances on their credit cards so they could invest in the 10% Program.
Ross' management of the money invested in the 10% Program generated little, if any, income. Ross made 10 percent interest payments to some investors, but that money was either their initial investment or came from money deposited by subsequent investors. Much of the money was lost to investments in Internet sites and was spent by the defendant.
The scheme ran from August 2001 until March 2003 when Ross ran out of money to make the promised interest payments. When the scheme collapsed, investors in the 10% Program lost at least $3.5 million.
Ross was remanded into custody following today's guilty verdicts. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 3 by United States District Judge Manuel Real. The mail fraud and wire fraud counts each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, and the money laundering counts carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Release No. 05-111
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