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The Perfect Scam

113 EpisodesProduced by AARPWebsite

AARP’s weekly podcast The Perfect ScamSM tells the stories of people who find themselves the target of a scam. Host Bob Sullivan introduces listeners to those who have experienced scams firsthand, as well as professional con artists and leading experts who pull back the curtain on how scammers opera… read more

39:08

Darren Berg: A Ponzi Scheme Mastermind Escapes: Part 1

It’s 2009 and Bernie Madoff has pleaded guilty to stock and securities fraud in New York. Covered heavily by the media, Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is front of mind for many Americans. It also has a group of investors on the West Coast concerned. They’ve placed their hard-earned savings with the Meridian Group, a company operating out of downtown Seattle. Its founder, Darren Berg, a well-known and respected businessman, reassures his investors that their retirement savings are safe. His firm has passed several audits, and Berg promises that there is no “magic” behind the company’s robust rate of returns. Besides Meridian, Berg runs a successful charter bus company with high-profile clients like Nike, the NFL and Google. In Washington state people trust Berg, and his charismatic personality has helped him assuage investors for years. But in 2010, the house of cards Berg had built begins to fall. One of Meridian’s largest investors wants to cash out, and Berg is unable to pay. Complaints roll in to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington and the FBI. The authorities take a deeper look into the Meridian Group and confirm investors’ worst fears: They are part of the largest Ponzi scheme the state has ever seen. Darren Berg’s lavish lifestyle of yachts, mansions and private planes has been fraudulently funded by his investors. With the authorities working to shut the scheme down, the end of the Meridian Group is imminent, but Berg has one more trick up his sleeve.

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