'We grow money a million times faster than Warren Buffett': The SEC brought fraud charges against a pair of over-70s running a $30 million scheme that promised ridiculous returns to investors

Two men in their 70s told investors their sports-betting system could deliver far better returns than Warren Buffett, when in fact they were running a $30 million fraud, the SEC alleged last August .

warren buffett
  • "The King Warren Buffett takes more than six years to triple an investor's funds," Thomas Becker told one investor. "We triple money in less than 6 months."
  • "We grow money a million times faster than Warren Buffett ... actually we grow it a quadrillion times faster," John Thomas told another investor, the SEC complaint reads.
  • The agency has accused Becker and Thomas of duping more than 600 investors between 2014 and 2018, and mostly using their money to repay other investors, cover personal and business expenses, and pay brokers and agents instead of placing bets.
  • The case is still moving through court, and neither man has been convicted of any crime.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

A pair of over-70s told investors their sports-betting system generated returns that put Warren Buffett to shame, when in reality they were running a nearly $30 million fraud, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a complaint filed with the US District Court of Nevada last August .

Thomas Becker and John Thomas took money from more than 600 investors between 2014 and 2018, the SEC said, and their pitch sometimes included boasting about their superiority to the Berkshire Hathaway boss.

"The King Warren Buffett takes more than six years to triple an investor's funds," Becker told an investor in an email in January 2017, the agency said. "We triple money in less than 6 months."

"We grow money a million times faster than Warren Buffett ... actually we grow it a quadrillion times faster," Thomas told another investor in November 2018, the SEC said.

The case is still moving through court, and neither man has been convicted of any crime.

Becker and Thomas used at most $4.4 million, or 15% of the $29.5 million they took from investors, to place bets, the complaint alleges.

Instead, the men spent about $8 million on personal and business expenses, $5.8 million on commissions for some of the more than 150 brokers and agents who helped them attract investors, and $13.2 million on "Ponzi payments" to old investors with new investors' money, the SEC alleged.

The pair masked their activities by providing fake, personalized spreadsheets for investors, the SEC said.

For example, the spreadsheets indicated that their investors had amassed a total of more than $275 million in June 2018, when in reality there was less than $2 million across the bank accounts behind the scheme, the agency said.

In an order filed this month, Judge Andrew Gordon denied a motion to unfreeze the pair's personal assets, but granted them each $5,000 a month to cover their living expenses.

Becker and Thomas previously pleaded guilty in 1991 to federal felony charges of money laundering and conspiracy tied to a pyramid scheme they ran together, the SEC said.

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