Fraud in the news

Fraudster gets 30-year prison sentence, Social Security fraud and more

Fraudster gets 30-year prison sentence for $1 billion Ponzi scheme

The owner of a California-based solar energy firm is going to prison for 30 years after orchestrating a $1 billion Ponzi scheme that lured big-name investors, including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Jeff Carpoff’s company, DC Solar, built mobile solar generators, which carried tax credits and were designed to be used at sporting events, musical festivals and on construction sites. The business model looked sound, but the venture ultimately failed.

Carpoff and his co-conspirators, including his wife, Paulette, hid their losses by fabricating demand for the generators and falsifying financial statements and leases. And as in any classic Ponzi scheme, they also used money from new investors to pay existing ones.

The fraudsters funded a luxurious lifestyle with the ill-gotten gains, purchasing real estate across the Western U.S. and the Caribbean, a minor league baseball team, a NASCAR sponsorship, a private jet and a classic car collection. (See “A solar firm owner is sentenced to 30 years over a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme,” by Joe Hernandez, NPR, Nov. 10, 2021.)

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