FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CBSMiami) – A Fort Lauderdale woman is out $50,000 after buying in to what she thought was a solid investment turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
“This was a real company. I had a stock certificate so I didn’t believe there was anything suspicious,” the woman, who did not want to be identified, told WFOR-TV in Miami. “I feel stupid that I was caught up in all of this.”
Fort Lauderdale Economic Crimes Det. Alejandro Arenas showed WFOR one of those certificates. He said it’s worth nothing. “He was never purchasing debentures or buying shares, he was just pocketing the money for his own gain,” said Det. Arenas.
He’s talking about David Aubel, also known as David Kost. Arenas said Aubel is the accused mastermind in the scheme. Police said he operated a company called “Angel Investments” with a downtown Fort Lauderdale address. The company took in $2.43 million. Only 5% of that went back to investors. Some of the victims lost their life savings.
“He’s just a professional conman,” Det. Arena said. “He’s very good at what he does. He’s able to deceive everybody and tell them stories they want to hear.”
Investigators said he spent the money on things like $138,578 on cash withdrawals and $672,965 on credit cards. Court documents show he spent $15,108 at restaurants, $31,080 on entertainment and $515,242 to family members.
Nelson Garcia is also charged in the case.
“This has destroyed my life sir, completely,” Garcia told WFOR’s Ted Scouten. “He tricked me like he tricked everybody else.”
Police said Garcia was part of Angel Investments. Garcia, who is under house arrest, even spoke about it on a podcast. He said, just like the alleged victims, he too was duped. “He tricked me,” he told Scouten. “He used a phony name, a phony name, phony documents. Now I’m out of work and I’m in a bad spot.”
Court records show that Garcia was paid more than $352,994. He told CBS Miami that he’s broke. “The only way it’s going to be fixed is if he pays these damn people. He has to pay these people,” Garcia said. “I didn’t steal any money. I am broke. I got $800 in my checking account and I haven’t paid the rent yet.”
Aubel remains in the Broward County Jail in lieu of $700,000 bond.
Police said if you believe you’ve been scammed or you’re the victim of fraud, call your local police department.