On Monday this week, a man was arrested in California by the FBI for allegedly running a $35million Ponzi scheme after attempting to hide from federal agents during a lake using an underwater ‘sea scooter’.
44-year-old Matthew Piercey, fled as agents initially tried to arrest him, leading them on a chase through the Redding area before abandoning the vehicle and making for Lake Shasta.
According to sources, a helicopter following and monitoring Piercey watched him swim into the lake with a Yamaha submersible device before disappearing beneath the water of California’s largest reservoir.
The FBI Agents lost sight of him and were only able to see bubbles on top of the water because the suspect remained submerged for around 25 minutes before being forced to resurface again due to the lake’s frigid temperatures.
He was checked over by medics who determined he didn’t got to be treated for hypothermia despite the icy temperatures, and altered into a replacement set of garments provided by his wife before being taken into custody.
The Yamaha 350Li he used for his attempted escape is a $1,195 motorized device with an underwater propulsion which allows users to cruise below the surface at depths of 100 feet. It can pull users at speeds of up to three .7 mph.
Authorities didn’t say what device he wont to breath underwater.
Piercey and his 67-year-old business partner Kenneth Winton were indicted on November 12 for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme through two companies, Family Wealth Legacy and Zolla.
He had worked within the Chicago area for years during a wealth-management and legal services firm headed up by his father before moving to California in 2016 to specialise in wealth management.
Family Wealth Legacy was founded in the same year of 2016 and focused on wealthy clients with a minimum investment of $50,000.
Its website lists offices in El Dorado Hills, Roseville, Walnut Creek, San Diego also as Colorado and Illinois.
‘At Family Wealth Legacy, we feature a uniform commitment to affluent families as they address the multifaceted demands of executing their wealth,’ Winton says during a statement posted on the location .
However, Piercey was under investigation for quite a year after alleged victims of the scheme came forward and he has now been charged with wire fraud, fraud , concealment , and witness tampering.
According to court documents, between July 2015 and August, Piercey convinced investors to offer $35million to his companies, telling them that they were guaranteed returns.
He claimed to be using ‘Upvesting Fund’, an algorithmic trading fund he claimed had a history of success, the Sacramento Bee reports. The firms were also supposedly investing clients’ money using strategies like ‘cryptocurrency mining’.
However, Piercey allegedly admitted to an associate that there was no Upvesting Fund, court documents state, and should have had no knowledge of cryptocurrencies.
‘I do not know they knew what they were doing with the crypto,’ Attorney Josh Kons, whose represents a number of the alleged victims, told the Bee.
Winton is scheduled to seem in court on Thursday. he’s charged with wire fraud.
Both faces up to twenty years in prison and many thousands of dollars in fines if convicted.
Winton’s attorney Adam G. Gasner, told the Bee his client ‘looks forward to the judicial process shedding light on what actually occurred here’.