Victims of alleged Ponzi scheme lost $100K

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — “He came across as a very, very sweet man,” Joyce Frederiksen said.

So she invested a $100,000 inheritance with Travis M. Oliver. Now, it has disappeared.

Frederiksen has known Oliver since the 1990s. They used to work together. So when he told her he could get her 13% a year on her money, she was ready to believe it.

That was in 2009. By the next year, she was starting to have doubts. She says Oliver told her she could tap her investment anytime she needed cash. But when she tried, she says, Oliver told her the money was frozen — iIn Europe.

“And then it turned into excuse after excuse after excuse,” Frederiksen said. “‘Well, it’s in Europe and going to be released tomorrow.’ I’d call him the next day: ‘Well, no, they haven’t changed euros into American dollars yet. It’s on the way.’”

She said she hasn’t seen a dime and she has no idea where her hundred grand is.

In 2012, Oliver moved out of Holland and settled in southern California.

Now a federal grand jury in Illinois has indicted Oliver on 23 counts of fraud.

Also named is a Rockford, Illinois man named Todd Smith. The fraud case is the least of Smith’s legal worries — he’s awaiting trial for killing his wife.

Todd Smith. (Courtesy KREX)
Todd Smith. (Courtesy KREX)

According to a case filed by the Illinois Secretary of State, Smith would send investor money to Oliver and his Electus Asset Holding company in Holland. Then Oliver would send some of it back to Smith, keep some and send some of it to another Illinois company called Cash Flow Financial Club, which a federal agency has alleged fraudulently accepted $45 million from more than 600 investors.

It’s not yet known if that’s what happened to Joyce Frederiksen’s money.  She says other people in Holland also invested.

Frederiksen and her husband Steve say there were small signs that they failed to pick up on but became clear later — red flags that could have been a hint.

They say Oliver operated out of his house and had no office or even business cards. They say when they went to his house for investment documents, he’d go in another room and print them off his computer.

And there was the amount of return he promised: 13%.

“That’s not bad when the stock market’s failing,” Steve Frederiksen said. “Since this sounds too good to be true, maybe it is.”

And they say they didn’t know until later that Oliver was not registered to sell such investments.

Investors can check. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has a web page that shows you how.

Oliver is scheduled to make his first federal court appearance next Tuesday in Rockford, Ill.

“I’m hoping he pays for what he did,” Joyce Frederiksen said.  “He hurt a lot of people.”

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Online:

SEC on how to check out brokers and investment advisers

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