Colo. Scam Artist on the Run

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Authorities in Jefferson County, Colo., are hunting for an accused con artist gone missing after being indicted on charges that he sold shares in a nonexistent cable network to small investors.

Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office for Jefferson and Gilpin counties, confirmed that the whereabouts of Edward L. Jones are unknown. A fugitive task force is looking for Jones, against whom a warrant has been issued.

Jones was indicted July 23 on 13 counts of securities fraud and one count of felony theft.

Beginning in 2000, he began contacting potential investors, claiming to represent businesses he identified as Equistar International and International Rep Group.

Both were registered as limited-liability companies in the state in 2000, according to the indictment.

Jones told potential investors the two firms were developing cable-TV programming related to horses, and he sold shares to about one-dozen investors, who each put in $2,000-$10,000.

Before the alleged scheme fell apart, he had obtained nearly $90,000 from investors.

Court documents showed that Jones convinced investors of his business acumen by telling his targets he had experience managing a federal-government facility with a $7 million annual budget. He claimed to work for that agency from 1990-94, according to the indictment, but in reality, he was serving time for bank robbery during that time frame.

The suspect solicited investments by promising a 15% annual return on the money. But when 12 months passed, Jones convinced the investors to “roll over” their profits into more shares in the two companies.

Investigators tracked the money to personal accounts in two Colorado banks -- accounts that are now overdrawn.

Jones provided investors with periodic statements of alleged performance of their funds, but in April, he sent letters to investors claiming that their money had been “wrongfully taken by a firm engaged in currency trading.”

He also claimed that the investments would be covered by loans from the Middle East or from other domestic, nonexistent companies, or repaid with the sale of property Jones doesn’t own.

If caught, tried and convicted, the 65-year-old suspect could face 12 years in prison for each count in the indictment.

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