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UPDATED 3.30.12: Broward Man Accused of Running a Ponzi Scheme Arrested

A Ft. Lauderdale man, George Elia, currently under investigation by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, is also facing a $4 million lawsuit alleging that he has been running a Ponzi scheme. In October 2011, Michael Imbesi of San Diego, along with his father, step-mother and sister, filed the Broward Circuit Court lawsuit against Elia and his company, International Consultants & Investment Group Limited Corp., after repeated requests to withdraw their money were met with delay tactics and excuses.

According to the Complaint, Elia promoted himself as an investment adviser able to generate annual profits of 20 percent on average. Court documents show that Michael Imbesi began investing with Elia in 2005 and for years, he received statements showing returns of 4 to 7 percent per quarter. Pleased with his returns, Imbesi recommended Elia to relatives, including his father and step-mother. According to the Complaint, in the spring of 2011, Elia became inconsistent in distributing money, blaming the delays on medical issues and a hacked e-mail account. The Imbesis became nervous and asked for their principal back, but Elia only responded with excuses.

Court documents reflect that an audit of Elia’s business records found significant irregularities, including the use of business funds to pay Elia’s personal expenses. According to court records, the bank accounts for Elia’s businesses were frozen pending the outcome of the litigation. At his deposition in November 2011, Elia answered standard questions about his background, but refused to answer additional questions, and invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Elia and his wife abruptly moved out of their Ft. Lauderdale home in January 2012. Federal authorities arrested Elia on March 27 in Las Vegas after he and his wife arrived on a flight from London. Elia is now facing extradition to South Florida.

Investors nationwide who have been the victims of a Ponzi scheme, may contact the Florida securities arbitration lawyers at McCabe Rabin, P.A. for a free and confidential consultation by calling toll free at 877.915.4040 or by e-mail to kelly@mccaberabin.com.