Warning Restitution Registration Deadline For Okun-Coleman Victims December 29, 2008

Chicago Sun-Times published this deansguide article 12-07-08

The following email notice was sent to all Okun-Coleman victims of the 1031 Tax Group scandal by the US Department of Justice. If you were one of the 1031 Tax Group victims of Ed Okun and Lara Coleman, you MUST register your financial loss as described in the letter copied below.

Warning: Are You On US Department of Justice Mailing List?

If you do not receive a hard copy in the mail, the CRIMINAL court doesn’t have your correct address. It is imperative that you alert Kim Ulmet, with the US Department of Justice, so she can update or correct the victims’ mailing list she is developing/maintaining to ensure you receive other official court documents. Her information is below. If you fail to follow the steps below, you could miss out on the opportunity to recieve any restitution via the criminal court process (which is totally different from the ongoing bankruptcy mess).

Kim Ulmet Contact Information:

U.S. Department of Justice,
United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond
600 East Main Street, Suite 1800,
Main Street Centre,
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 866-287-5410
Fax: 804-771-2316

The Letter:

December 01, 2008

RE: United States v. Defendant(s)

Case Number 2007R01837 and Court Docket Number 3:08CR132
United States v. Edward H. Okun

Important Notice: Victim Verification of Financial Losses
Enclosed you will find a form entitled, “Important Notice: Victim Verification of Financial Loss,” which requests information and supporting documentation concerning your financial loss associated with Edward H. Okun, d/b/a 1031 Tax Group and Investment Properties of America (IPA). The Qualified Intermediaries relevant to this case include: 1031 Advance; 1031 Security Services; Atlantic Exchange Company; Investment Exchange Group; National Exchange Services; and Real Estate Exchange Services. It is imperative that the enclosed form and your supporting documentation be completed and submitted to the United States Attorney’s Office, Attn: Kim Ulmet, Victim/Witness Specialist, 600 East Main Street, Suite 1800, Richmond, VA 23219 and be postmarked no later than Monday, December 29, 2008. You must submit the form with your original signature, however, your supporting documents may be copies. If your Victim Verification of Financial Loss form and supporting documentation outlining your financial loss are not postmarked by December 29, 2008, your name may not be included in the list of victims that will be submitted to the Court for restitution purposes.
Although you may have received and completed a survey from the United States Postal Service and/or filed a claim with the Bankruptcy Trustee, you must complete the enclosed form to be considered for restitution. In addition, you must sign the declaration under Penalty of Perjury and attach all requested supporting documentation. The restitution process is entirely separate from the pending bankruptcy proceedings. As you will see from the attached form, the relevant inquiries are different and require specific documentation. We appreciate your patience and cooperation with this process.

This notification will be sent through email and regular mail. If you do not receive this notification in the U.S. mail within two weeks, please log in to the VNS website, update your address, and call me at 866-287-5410 to ensure we have your updated contact information.

Ed Okun Denied Freedom: Judge Payne Hammers Defense Attorney’s Explanation

Courtesy Gordon Gecko Wiki

Sensing his fleeting chances at freedom, 1031 Tax Group investment criminal Ed Okun made what looks to be his last feable attempt for release yesterday–he was denied! Okun’s attempt centered around a defense motion for release based on a 3rd party custodian (required terms for his release) a Mr. Alex Carrera. The defense attorney in the case, one of a long line who have come and gone no doubt at either taxpayer’s expense or that of Okun’s victims, originally proposed that Mr. Carrera would be present at the November 5 hearing: Carrera was a no show.

The following is the tip from ever present and well informed Okun victim Elizabeth Callanan. Elizabeth has been a huge source of information and guidance in my 1 1/2 years of coverage on the Ed Okun rip off and eventual prosecution. The following comment will give all involved a much clearer picture of what has just transpired. This comment came in the last 24 hours. Certain passages were highlighted for reader convenience:

“Judge Payne DENIED Okun’s motion for release. The 3rd party custodian (required for Okun’s release) originally proposed in the defense’s motion, an Alex Carrera, was a no-show at the hearing, despite the Defense’s new attorney (a private attorney with an office in Washington, DC, named Barry Pollack — so Okun now has THREE attorneys, including the two from the public defender’s office, at US taxpayer expense!)telling the Judge he’d spoken to Carrera the previous afternoon and had every reason to believe he would be there and couldn’t explain why he wasn’t. Interestingly, his absence could not have been a surprise to Simone Bolani (Okun’s Brazilian bride), since she’d recruited a substitute, Edwin Escobar, the night before the hearing (odd she wouldn’t have shared that information with her husband’s attorney, isn’t it?) who did appear in the courtroom. However, under questioning by the US Attorney, Escobar had to admit that he was apparently guilty of one of the same offenses with which Okun was originally indicted, namely asking Okun to pay him $10,000 he was owed for some reason in increments of less than that to avoid IRS reporting limits! Judge Payne must have thought that wasn’t the most stellar qualification for a third party custodian and denied the motion. He also expressed chagrin that Carrera, described in the defense motion as a “family friend,” had in fact only met Okun once, at Simone’s Feb 2008 birthday party, and had not seen Okun since. He cautioned the defense not to bring any further such motions unless they’d personally interviewed the proposed custodian and assured themselves of the facts being claimed and that they were in fact suitably qualified to serve in that capacity. Thanks to Judge Payne and the US Attorney (Michael Dry), it looks like Okun’s appearance at his criminal trial which begins Jan 19 has been assured.”

Has A New Ed Okun Arrived On The 1031 Exchange Scene: Vesta Strategies LLC Staggers From Wall St. Journal Story

In another apparent blatant rip off of 1031 exchange investor funds, Vesta Strategies of San Jose, California “has closed its doors, leaving investors scrambling to recover millions and pointing to flaws in the largely unregulated industry” according to the Wall Street Journal report “Behind the Boom and Bust of Real- Estate Player Vesta.”

Do we have another Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group on our hands?

The Founders

Chicago businessman John Terzakis and partner Robert Estupinian were the principles at Vesta Strategies. They founded Vesta in 2004 amid a firestorm of legal problems

History

According to WSJ’s Kris Hudson’s report:

“Mr. Terzakis had a history of failed real-estate deals and soured relationships — information Mr. Terzakis isn’t required to disclose to potential clients. Now the two men are accusing each other in separate lawsuits of diverting millions of dollars from Vesta for personal use.”

The Losses Sound Familiar

Christina Pappas a California investor, a familiar story to the “Trainwreck Victims of Ed Okun”, is out $2.5 million she handed to Vesta in April 2008 from the “sale of a property.”

When Ms. Pappas found a replacement property, another building, to purchase within the IRS’s 180 day exchange period, she requested her funds be wired in order to close the deal. To her utter horror, but familiar to the people following this industry, Ms. Pappas maintains that the “Vesta representative failed to wire her money to complete the property exchange by the June 16 closing, and still hasn’t done so”

The Numbers

According to WSJ story, Mr. Estupinian was quoted as saying that “Vesta Strategies held $10 million to $30 million in client money at any one time.” Okun like no, but no small sum of money in any case

Vesta Infighting And Meltdown

In a scene worthy of Ed Okun, the two principles Terzakis and Estupinian ended up in court with Terzakis initiating the legal action.

Mr. Terzakis allegations included

1. Estupinian misappropriated several million dollars of Vesta’s money for his family’s use

2. $96,000 salary for Mr. Estupinian’s wife, who allegedly did little work for the company

3. Expenditures on a $1.3 million house

4. A $160,308 oceanfront apartment in Long Beach

5. $50,000 for a pair of dogs-doesn’t everyone have $50,000 twin dogs?

6. $42,795 in tuition toward Mr. Estupinian’s doctorate degree-education is expensive

The Countersuit by Mr. Estupinian

1. Embezzlement of about $25 million and the following quote by Mr. Estupinian:

“Beginning as far back as 2000, John Terzakis has been treating the client funds as his own personal piggy bank in order to fund his many personal business and development projects”

Final Final

If this does not sound like the Okun case it certainly sounds like a close facsimile to it. The bottom line for Ms.Pappas and fellow investors serviced by Vesta Strategies could be the same fate suffered by Okun victims: no return on investment, IRS nightmare tax bill, and the prospects of a lost retirement fund spent in a lavish lifestyle befitting a crook

1031 Tax Group Okun Swindle “Mantra”: “The plaintiffs’ money has ‘disappeared’ and recovery is unlikely”

Reuters.com published this deansguide article July 9, 2008

What has become an all to familiar phrase in the Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group (IXG) ponzi scandal, seems to be the dreaded mantra: “The plaintiffs’ money has disappeared and recovery is unlikely.Those were the words recorded in court hearings in Colorado this past month in regards to the embezzlement of funds through the Ed Okun held IXG exchange in Denver.

Exhibit 1: Sergio S. Alvarez v. Daniel E. McCabe

In “Sergio S. Alvarez v. Daniel E. McCabe et al, eight former clients are suing all three McCabes and Simring (Richard) for losses totaling more than $4.5 million” according to the latest from the Denver Business Journal’s Renee McGaw.

Eight clients were in the midst of their tax deferred exchanges with cash assets between $280,629-$1.9 million dollars lost when the 1031 Tax Group filed bankruptcy

Exhibit 2: Ward Enterprises LLC v. Daniel E. McCabe

The Plaintiff (Wade LLC) wired $3,300,000 in proceeds from a real estate transaction to IXG’s account held at the United Western Bank in Denver. Proceeds were for the purpose of performing a 1031 exchange

In the meantime IXG had been sold to Okun and his 1031 Tax Group-something Ward LLC did not know at the time. Consequently Ward expected it’s millions to be deposited in a separate, stand alone, account. Unfortunately for Ward, their monies were “pooled with other exchangers’ money and later moved out of United Western Bank”, according to allegations of the Ward suit.

The Beat Goes On

As usual nobody is taking responsibility for these illegal transactions. The McCabes are stating that they are innocent and victims of Okun’s dirty dealing. So the beat goes on, victim’s monies disappear and nobody is left holding the bag–except the victims

Okun Victims Notice: Judge Authorizes “Telephonic Participation” In June 11th Fee Application Hearing

According to US Trustee Gerald McHale’s latest notice the following developments have taken place for the upcoming June 11, 2008 Fee Application hearing. This hearing is taking place to review the application for payment of fees by the many entities that are being utilized by the Okun victims in their fight to recover their stolen monies. The following is from McHale’s June 5th notice:

“PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Honorable Martin Glenn, United States Bankruptcy Judge, has authorized counsel and parties appearing in this case to attend and participate telephonically, via Courtcall, in the hearing to be held before the Court on June 11,2008 at 11 :00 a.m. (the “June 1 1 Hearing”) concerning the First Interim Fee Applications for Allowance of Compensation and Reimbursement of Expenses of (i) Gerard A. McHale, Jr., the Chapter 11Trustee.”

The first round of negotiations of fee applications begins as the monies being sought for victims again take a hit. It seems like everyone wants to get paid but the people most deserving are getting nothing and have lost the most.

deansguide Contest: Who Can Show Me The Stupidest Example of the Email Scam Letter?

Note: If any of you scam artists are reading this love note and you want to make it to the “major leagues” then watch the following video. It’s America’s version of what you are trying to pull everyday. WARNING this is laced with profanities if you find swear words offensive PLEASE do not watch this video.

How many of these things do you get? I get between 20-30 a week and it has been going on for a few years now. Yes I am talking about the fake, bunko, scam, rip off emails proclaiming you have won “the Lottery”, “Will You Open An Account and Collect $4 million for Your Services” and the always heartwarming “My Father Died and I Must Open a US Bank Account.” Sometimes it is the Irish Lottery and other times it is the European Lottery. Yet my favorite is the email that arrives with the sincere subject line beginning “Dear Friend”, “Dear Sir”, “Urgent Matter”, and an slimy assortment of other massively ridiculous lies too stupid to be true. Below is this weeks winner, so far, for stupidest crook email.

Apparently Chevron has a Lottery! Wow and I thought that the gas companies were all about sticking it too me. All this time they have just been waiting to give that extra $700,000, caught between the cushions in the employee lunchroom, that I spent last year on gasoline back to me. Uh oh but wait the email is from Nigeria which is commonly known as the email scam leader of the world.

The greatest thing about this attempted rip off? These clowns spelled petroleum-”petrolem.”

Chevron Oil/Petrolem 2007
8,Macarthy Street,
P.M.B Box 166
Abuja, Nigeria.
Tel: +2348029523564

This is to inform you that you have won a prize money of Seven Hundred
Thousand United States Dollars, ($700,000.00) for this year 2007
Lottery promotion which is organized by CHEVRON OIL/PETROLUEM 2007.
CHEVRON OIL/PETROLUEM 2007, collects all the email addresses of the
people that are active online, among the millions that subscribed to
the Internet. we only select five people every Year as our winners
through electronic balloting System without the winner applying, we
congratulate you for being one of the people selected. 

These are your identification numbers: 

Batch number....................CT 091026XN
Reff number......................CT 095447XN
Winning number...............CT 097886XN 

1. Full name..............
2. Contact Address........
3. Age....................
4. Telephone Number.......
5. Marital Status.........
6. Sex....................
7. Next Of Kin............
8. Occupation.............
9.Company................
10.State:.................
11.Country................
12.Nationality............
13.Scan Copy of Identification Card 

These numbers fall within your Location file, you are requested to
contact the events manager/Claims Department, send your winning
identification numbers to him,to enable him verify your claims. 

(CONTACT FINANCE DEPARTMENT)
Name: Mr. Yusuf Kasim
E-mail: kasim.yusuf@yahoo.com
TEL: Tel: +2348029523564

Yours faithfully,
Mr. Obaseki John.
(Chevron Oil Petroluem Bonanza/Lottery Coordinator).