Let’s face it, we all want to make the big hit, win the lottery, ring the bell once in our lives and create for ourselves the opportunity to retire with a wad of money hidden safely away in some offshore retreat.

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In the last few years, we have seen a few certain high flying technology and bio-tech stocks like Dell, AOL and Microsoft make many people instant millionaires, so naturally, we want our share too!

Where there is a need, there is always some to do the deed. So, lo and behold, enter the offshore investment specialist, usually a former insurance or used car salesman from Omaha, who whispers in your ear promises of 100% or 200% returns, all tax free and invisible to spouses, creditors and the Infernal Revenue Service.

Best of all, you can’t lose, your investment money is GUARANTEED, by the IDIC (sounds just like the FDIC but based offshore to provide insurance for international investments) based in beautiful downtown Grenada, the high finance capital of the White Collar Con world.

You want stocks? They have stocks, and they even have markets of their own called the Global Stock Exchange and World Investment Stock Exchange (WISE). Take your pick; you can invest in diamond fields, shrimp farms, gold mines or best of all “Prime Bank Notes”, special off bank financial trading programs of the “worlds top 100 banks”, who buy and sell commercial paper to finance humanitarian projects that are required to be funded under the table because the big governments dont want to show or expose their involvement in global relief efforts or reveal their involvement in government bailouts.

Over the last 10 or 20 years, thousands of otherwise sane and prudent people have “invested” hundreds of millions of dollars in these schemes and every one of them lost their shirt, pants and gold lame jockstrap. Oh, they got a few checks for few months or a year, but then, once they are shown the paper “gains”, the promoter gets them to “rollup their profits and double up their investments”.

Before you know it, the “whannis hits the Westinghouse”, the checks stop coming, the phone is disconnected and the excuses start pouring in, like “the check’s in the mail.

The best and most often used excuse for the loss or holdup of the payments is that the big banks in London or the US Government has held up the wire transfer of the funds, either to squeeze out a little interest on your money for their financially strapped treasury or to investigate the source of the funds to make sure that it is not South American Drug money.

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As you can soon see, the offshore investment scams are not a new way to separate sheep from their wool, only the latest twists on the old shell game, (watch the pea, watch the pea, where it goes, nobody knows) a new spin on the old scam created by Carlo Ponzi many years ago in the Big Apple.

It amazes me that as often as the newspapers, magazines and television expose one fraudulent scheme, two others take their place and 10 new investors pop up to throw money into their pockets. Several cases have made national news stories recently that have not only taken individual investors, but corporate and business entity funds have been pouring money into scams promising mega returns. (Does the name Marty Frankel ring a bell with you?).

The new boys on the block, the ones who are not yet in jail, are out promoting their products and services at seminars, all just outside the US borders in Canada, Bermuda, Mexico, Cancun, Grenada and Antigua to keep themselves (and their money) just outside the reach of US authorities and their securities laws.

These sharks cruise the offshore seminar circuit like “Jaws” swallowing neophyte offshore adventurers whole. They preach the gospel of THREE lies!

  1. That you don’t have to pay taxes (taxes are voluntary, you know, you don’t really HAVE to pay)
  2. That the government has no jurisdiction over you
  3. That they will make you RICH. WARNING! These are the three biggest lies in the offshore industry.

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Who are these masked men?

From bankrupt insurance salesman to multi-million dollar investment banker is easy, if you bribe the right people (and change you name). It even helps to guarantee their investments with your own insurance company, that doesn’t exist, except in name.

Just ask Gilbert Siegler, now going by the nom de plume of Van Brink. Formerly a salesman in Oregon (and in bankruptcy) and now an international offshore banker (or so he says!!!) who up until a few months ago, ran an operation in Grenada (with the help of a $300,000 political contribution to the local government banking authority).

Van Brink’s First International Bank of Grenada promised 100% per year, or more returns, claimed an insurance guarantee through his own company, the IDIC (International Deposit Indemnity Corporation) and offered investment opportunities through his World Investment Stock Exchange (WISE). Well, the heat has been put on Mr. Van Brink through the US Government, so he has packed his bags and blew town!

Where is he now? Try Africa. He is negotiating to open a new banking system there, using the old home of Idi Amin as his headquarters. Where is the money? That’s the $64,000 question that his investors are now asking, all over the country.

Van Brink has taken investors for millions of dollars claiming that he is buying and selling Treasury Notes and bank paper (notes between banks) making 3 to 4 % each time he flips the deal to another bank. And of course, he is accruing the profits for his investors (Why doesn’t he pay them a dividend).

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Eager, expectant investors, by the tens of thousands, have lost their hopes and dreams to world class con men like these, who lured them into phony investments and fraudulent schemes. Through the promise of financial privacy and spectacular returns, billions of dollars have disappeared into tiny islands in the stream, never to appear again. Some of the most recent of them include:

In beautiful, peaceful Hawaii, 400 retirees pray that by some miracle, their savings will be returned by Peter Dennis, the mastermind of “Quantum Gold”. Many of these people took out second mortgages on their homes, charged their credit cards up to the limit, or cashed in their retirement to get in on a deal that promised 10% return a month. You see, it was a sure thing, you just can’t lose!

Quantum Gold was one of many scams sold as an offshore trading program targeting well to do retirees living on a fixed income. Peter and the money are now gone and so is the future of his victims. (We think that Peter flew to coop to his family in Melbourne, Australia). The investors are now looking not only for Peter, but for the promoter who brought them into the deal, one Taansen Sumeru. (If you think that’s a real name, I have a bridge to sell you!).

Taansen is the self-proclaimed guru of peace, love and offshore riches. You can find him at all of the offshore conferences, in his long flowing robe, hawking the latest, hottest get rich quick schemes to the spiritualists and heathen alike. In fact, Taansen, through his wife, is now trying to open his own offshore bank (Where else but in Grenada?). Taansen gets rich off the commissions he pockets for putting investors in these flaky deals. That is, until he has started his own little scheme! Now he can go direct, and cut out the middleman!

Half of Scottsdale Arizona’s retirees hold their breath while their favorite investment advisor has been the subject of a search and seizure order and charges by a Phoenix grand jury. J.W. Zidar was recently made the subject of a federal investigation and received a house call from investigators, who seized his books, records and documents, looking for the money trail of the millions of dollars investors poured into Zidar’s programs (I was contacted by some of these same investors last year, and told them NOT TO DO IT, but guess what? They did it anyway!

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The state of Arizona has really gone after offshore scammers with a vengeance! They probably lead the nation in prosecution of these white-collar wonders of the investment world.

These are not the only scams and are certainly not even the worst. Some of these offshore swindlers have taken in many millions of dollars. One even boasts that he has taken in $60 billion on deposit and has it under investment, but of course, he can’t or won’t tell exactly where it is. How about it, Melvin? Show us the money! Please explain to all of those widows and orphans how and where you spent their hopes and dreams.

Well, there it is. The stock market may be a rough ride, but at least you can see where it goes. Once your money goes offshore, it may just go “Poof” and disappear. As Clint Eastwood would say, “Do you feel lucky?”.

If you want to avoid losing it all, please repeat after me:

  • I will run like hell from any deal that “sounds too good to be true”.
  • I will not do the deed if I can’t find out who I am really doing business with, or who is investing my money.
  • I will not invest in any jurisdiction where I have no legal recourse
  • I will not let someone talk me into breaking the law, and will run from those who do.
  • I will get a confirmation or contract on my transactions.
  • I will not be pressured to do the deed today.
  • I will trust my gut, not my greed, especially when it says “don’t do it”.
  • I will remember how hard it was for me to make this money before I jump in the soup.

If you will follow the precepts of this little litany, you too can keep from being fleeced like a sheep. If not, repeat after me, BAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA!!

Edmund J. Pankau, is an internationally recognized security expert, author and financial investigator. He has been featured in such publications as Business Week, Time, Kiplinger’s, USA Today, BBC London, CFO Magazine and the New York Times. Mr. Pankau has been highlighted on CNN, Fox TV, ABC and MSNBC as an expert in the field of investigation. He has authored numerous articles for the investigative industry and has contributed substantially to the development of the investigative industry. His website is at www.pankau.com

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