Posted at: 06/25/2013 3:40 PM
Updated at: 06/25/2013 5:57 PM
By: Brett Davidsen
She was promised high returns, but instead caused high anxiety for hundreds of investors who were scammed out of millions of dollars. The proceeds of the sham investment scheme went directly into the pocket of the con artist.
Imagine, spending your entire life saving up your money so you can live comfortably in retirement. And then just like that, it's gone. That's what happened to many investors, including a couple in their 90's, who invested with a woman who turned out to be a complete fraud.
Kalin Dao is the mastermind behind a scheme that cost more than 500 investors at least $7 million.
Robert Strande, U.S. Postal Inspector, said, “She offered a number of programs either penny stock type investments, or investments in commodities, precious metals, things like that.”
Postal inspectors invested in Dao's company to learn more about her business.
Strande said, “She gladly took my money, sent me regular updates, investment statements categorizing how my investment was doing."
Those documents were all fake. Inspector Strande traveled to Las Vegas to attend an investor's meeting with Dao and brought a hidden camera. He spoke with her about the transparency of her records.
Strande says there's an important takeaway for every potential investor.
Strande said, “Don't accept answers like, 'this is a private company, you're not entitled to look at the financials, I don't have to show you the financial records'. Don't accept answers like that."
Strande also said another potential red flag was the presentation Dao gave, for example, a simple chart.
Strande said, "She provided a PowerPoint presentation to the entire investment group and it looked as though a second grader had done the art work."
Postal inspectors say the victims were devastated.
Strande said, "It completely wiped them out financially. Most of them did not have disposable income."
Postal inspectors say Dao used the money to finance her lavish gambling trips to Vegas. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Experts warn you to be wary of investment companies who make outlandish promises. Dao's company claimed investment returns could be as high at 2200% over a year and a half.