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Press Release

Jackson Man Sentenced to Almost Twenty Years in Believed to be Largest Ponzi Scheme in State History

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Mississippi


Jackson, Miss. – Arthur Lamar Adams, 58, of Jackson Mississippi, was sentenced today to 235 months in federal prison for wire fraud involving a large, multi-state Ponzi scheme involving more than one hundred million dollars and hundreds of victims spanning a number of years, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze.

United States District Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Adams to serve nineteen and a half years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, on a charge of wire fraud involving a scheme and artifice to defraud investors in connection with a Ponzi scheme using Madison Timber Properties, LLC, a company wholly owned by Adams. Judge Reeves ordered full restitution to be paid to the victims of the scheme. During the last year of the scheme, Adams fraudulently obtained in excess of $164.5 million dollars from more than 320 investors located in at least 14 different states.

"Justice was served today, but does not end today. While this fraudster will now spend almost the rest of his entire life behind bars, we will not rest until restitution is recovered and victims are restored. My heart goes out to those who lost their retirement, their life savings, their life lines to this greedy, selfish man. Rest assured that we will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to root out fraud in the future and bring these criminals to justice," said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.

Over a period of at least 7 years, Adams executed this sophisticated Ponzi scheme using Madison Timber Properties, LLC, a company wholly owned by Adams. From as early as 2011 through April 2018, Adams’s scheme defrauded investors by soliciting millions of dollars of funds under false pretenses, failing to use the investors’ funds as promised, and converting investors’ funds to Adams’s own benefit without the knowledge of the investors. Instead of investing his clients’ money, Adams used the invested funds for his own personal benefit and for purposes other than those represented to investors, which also included making payments due and owing to other investors, thus perpetuating the Ponzi scheme. During the fraudulent scheme, Adams fraudulently obtained well in excess of one hundred million dollars from more than 250 investors located in at least 14 different states.

As part of his fraudulent scheme, Adams falsely represented to investors that Madison Timber Properties was in the business of buying timber rights from landowners and then selling the timber rights to lumber mills at a higher price. The object of the scheme was to cause

individuals to invest in loans that purportedly were for the purpose of financing contracts for the purchase of timber rights to be sold to lumber mills at a higher price. However, neither Adams nor Madison Timber Properties had such timber rights or contracts with lumber mills, except in only a few instances.

Adams entered into fraudulent investment contracts with investors, most often in the form of promissory notes on behalf of Madison Timber Properties. The loans typically guaranteed investors an interest rate of 12-13%, with the interest to be repaid to investors over the course of 12-13 months. The monthly payments due on these promissory notes were typically due on either the first or the fifteenth of the month.

Adams created false documents causing investors to believe that their investments were secured by sufficient collateral from which they could recover all or part of their investment in the event that Madison Timber Properties defaulted on the loans. Specifically, Adams created false timber deeds purporting to be contracts conveying timber rights from landowners to Madison Timber Properties. Adams forged the signatures of landowners and also created false timber deeds purporting to convey timber rights from Madison Timber Properties to the investors.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dave Fulcher.

Updated October 30, 2018