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Posted by Mark Pugsley.

The story below was published in the Deseret News last week. This one should have been obvious to any investor — if you are promised 5 to 10% interest per month it is too good to be true! No legitimate business enterprise that I know of can generate those kinds of returns. The only way to do it is to take new investor money as it comes in and use it to pay back the earlier investors — the classic Ponzi scheme.

Pleasant Grove man arrested in investigation of investment scheme

PLEASANT GROVE — A Pleasant Grove man has been booked into jail for investigation of allegedly convincing various individuals to become involved in an investment scheme of more than $3 million and losing most of the money.

Investigators believe that since May 2007, Michael Cameron Van Alphen has been soliciting family members, friends and others into an investment that he claimed would pay between 5 percent and 10 percent in interest per month. Van Alphen, 29, would tell investors that his group managed about $25 million for capital leasing and other private placement programs, according to a news release issued by the Utah County Attorney’s Office.

Investors were told that their money was not at risk and could be returned within 90 days, officials said. Van Alphen allegedly led investors to believe that a group of “traders” used the investors’ money to convince potential lenders that a given company was possible.

Investigators say Van Alphen sent much of the investor money — totaling $3,058,000 — to various individuals involved in investment schemes and lost most of the money. During the first few months, investors received interest payments, but those payments stopped in July 2008.

The investment scheme turned into a Ponzi scheme when he began collecting investor money and paying back past investors with the new money, the county attorney’s news release said.

Van Alphen was booked into Utah County Jail for investigation of two counts of securities fraud, two counts of unlicensed broker-dealer, two counts of sale of unregistered securities, eight counts of communications fraud and one count of pattern of unlawful activity (racketeering).

Any investors who have not reported their investment with Van Alphen to the Utah County Attorney’s Office are asked to call 801-851-8021 and ask for detective Doug Witney or bureau chief Jeff Robinson.


The Daily Herald also covered it:


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