Major Ponzi Schemer Paul Burks Gets 15 Years Jail Time
Feb 14, 2017 11:56 AM EST
Paul Burks, major Ponzi schemer, the founder of Zeek Rewards.com was sentenced 14 years and 8 months for his lead participation in the Lexington Ponzi scheme by the federal judge on Monday. The prison term was given out of consideration to Burks' age and health which if not could have sentenced up to 59 years.
According to Winston-Salem Journal, the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history that victimized 800,000 people worldwide from ordinary person to businessmen and professionals named Zeek Rewards in 2011, was shut down and assets were frozen on Aug. 17, 2012. The lead man behind the scheme Paul Burks who was just given the sentence can still enjoy free on bond until his prison site is determined.
Burks whose esophagus was removed due to cancer will need to be imprisoned in a facility where he could sleep in a recliner. Along with Ponzi schemer and mastermind Bernie Madoff, Burks will be likely sent to Butner prison facility.Noel Tin, Burks attorney said Burks will likely appeal the verdict. About that almost 15 years sentence, Judge Max Cogburn applied the phrase "fair and generous" as U.S. attorneys sentencing recommendation for 70-year-old Burks.
Burks could be sentenced up to 59 years for the conviction of three charges; the wire and mail-fraud conspiracy, the mail-fraud, and the wire-fraud. But considering his health and age Judge Cogburn finally gave the prison term. With the weight of Burks' crime as a major Ponzi schemer and the number of his victims, the sentence is just fitted.
Started in North Carolina, Burks' Ponzi scheme has been known worldwide. Zeek Rewards rose to popularity after the first compliance it gave to investors giving them cash. After this, the number of investors/victims surged suddenly until they came to the time they knew they were duped. Similar networking scheme operated worldwide but not as large as Zeek Rewards, as reported by USA Today.
Burks' Ponzi scheme chief operating officer Dawn Wright-Olivares with his stepson Daniel Olivares was sentenced in February 2014 for pleading guilty to fraud charges. She was given the prison time half as Burks sentence. She had also cooperated in the federal case against Burks.
Tin attempted to ask the same leniency to Burks claiming he had no lavish spending and also cooperated with federal officials. But Cogburn said Burks was ill and older when he did those things to people. He said further that the negligence of people is no defense for taking advantage of the foolish, Burks kept the scheme going when he had an opportunity to stop.
Authorities hoped that the sentence would be an eye opener to others who want to be engaged in the same scheme. Also, it would remind people not to trust somebody promising instant return for a little amount of money being asked from them.