For David and Deborah Teja, the investment deal represented a chance to sock away college money for their two children, set aside a nest egg and have enough extra to give to charity.
It was, their investment advisers repeatedly told them, a "no brainer" that would pay them 12 percent interest on their investments, which would be guaranteed by the properties they bought to generate their cash.
Like many others, they attended a seminar presided over by investment guru Lawrence Leland "Lee" Loomis at a Holiday Inn and then went to a two-day event at the Gold Country Casino in Oroville to learn more. The high school teacher and social worker were surrounded by professionals much like themselves, who responded to the idea that their investments would enable folks in financial trouble to stay in their homes.
And so the Tejas, well educated with perfect credit scores and a successful business in Chico, took the bait, siphoning $150,000 in equity out of their home in 2006 and turning it over to Loomis Wealth Solutions, a firm Loomis started in Chico and later moved to Roseville.
Today, the money is gone, part of what federal authorities say was a $100 million Ponzi scheme that has spawned a years-long investigation, a maze of mortgage fraud, drug and hate crime charges, and financial woes for investors nationwide.
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