It sounds like a great idea: A company that provides cell service where no one has it. Who wouldn't want to invest? But it was all a scam that stole millions from vulnerable investors.
“I ain't got nothing left,” says Charles Betts, a fraud victim.
This is why 80 year-old Charles Betts is back at work. He is transporting cattle again after he lost more than a $100,000 of his savings in an investment scam.
“I expected not to be working at all, but with all the things that happened…,”says Betts.
What happened is Charles invested money in a wireless communications network called Epcom.
Robert Strande, a U.S. Postal Inspector, says the company's goal was to cover the gaps in cellular service that the big companies were not providing.
Charles, along with 500 others, put $7 million dollars into the project.
The problem: No cell towers were ever built and the investors lost everything.
“Financial ruin, devastation - these were farmers, retired individuals who did not have the ability to just go back to work and recoup their losses,” says Strande.
Postal inspectors began tracking the case and arrested Eldon Anderson as the mastermind.
“He would say, ‘If you don't get in now, you are going to lose an opportunity to invest and make a lot of money,’” says Strande.
Victims fell for the false sense of urgency Anderson created.
Some advice from postal inspectors: When considering investments, take your time and ask a lot of questions.
“Constantly ask questions, ask for information. If they are being evasive or if they are not giving any answers at all, be suspect of that. Walk away,” says Strande.
“I think you should do more investigating than I did,” says Betts.
Anderson is now in federal prison serving an 8-year sentence for selling unregistered securities in a phantom rural wireless communications network.