I-Team 10 Consumer Alert: Cheap thrills

Posted at: 10/08/2013 5:38 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

An I-Team 10 consumer alert for anyone who might be considering investing their money. In a rare interview, a twice-convicted con-man is explaining how he lured his victims. 

John Conley made millions of dollars preying on the elderly and vulnerable, telling them he would make them millions of dollars. Instead, he drained their life savings, driven by the thrill of knowing he could.

John Conley, ex-con artist, said, "I basically learned that investors are greedy."

John Conley has been convicted twice for his roles in various telemarketing investment schemes.

Conley said, "The whole point of telemarketing is to win over the people with your personality and that personality can be whatever you choose for the day."

Conley's most recent scam was a "boiler room"  operation where his employees would cold-call consumers and convince them to invest in oil and gas leases.

Conley said,"You never take no for an answer. You just keep pounding and eventually you will hit their greed button."

Roberta Bottoms, U.S. Postal Inspector, said, “John Conley is not unlike many other con artists I see that they are very pleasant people. They use their personality to befriend the investor. They prey upon seniors."

Conley said, "Those people are lonely and they won't hang up. So, you can keep talking on the phone. You keep talking and they will literally tell how much is in their bank account."

Postal inspectors say more than 100 investors lost $3.5 million in this oil and gas scam.

Bottoms said, “John made them big promises, he was going to make them rich. He said there was a lot of  oil and gas and he knew where it was, he just needed money to drill the wells and get it to market."

But those promises were lies.

Bottoms said, "He would send them statements, but in reality, there was no oil or gas sales. I don't think he ever sold a drop of oil or vapor of gas."

Conley says he's now sorry for what he did.

Conley said, "I look back on that time and think it's just about the most asinine thing I ever did because there was an honest way to do it.”

Conley confessed to his role in the scam and spent more than two years in prison. 

Postal inspectors say if you're investing, make sure you research the people you are entrusting your money to. If the victims in this case had looked into Conley's background, they would have learned he had been convicted of mail fraud before this scheme.