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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Investment fraud seemed legit
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- A woman got an investment tip from someone she trusted and her story could keep others from making the same mistake that cost her thousands.
The man behind the scam stole from hundreds of victims. He lured people to an investment with the promise of making millions of dollars. But, instead, they lost everything.
Misty Helms, a fraud victim, said, "I was very angry, very disheartened 'cause I really trusted him."
Misty Helms was crushed to find out she and her husband had lost all of their savings in a bogus investment, "I owned a restaurant and he ate in my restaurant every day. For approximately 30 years I've known this man."
Misty said Bill Stacey claimed he had recently sold his formula for a drug that could help cure cancer.
"He set up a whole demonstration on how everything worked, the company, big," she said. "I mean he had pamphlets, a DVD; it looked legit. It looked like a real company."
Stacey claimed his firm was about to be acquired by a large pharmaceutical company. He told Misty he was selling a limited number of stock options before the acquisition and they would be affordable.
"Really cheap, 10 for a $1 and he was wanting to share the wealth with us," Misty remembered.
She invested almost $3,000 based on Stacy's claim she could make millions. But the money never came.
"That was our nest egg, that was everything we had saved up; every penny. It wasn't much but it was everything to us," said Misty.
Misty's husband filed a police complaint and they soon learned they were not alone.
U.S. postal inspector, Christopher Davis, said, "He would approach people in church, friends he knew through acquaintances in town."
There were hundreds of victims.
"They felt very betrayed by Mr. Stacy. By pitching this thing, thinking they were helping him and basically he was just padding his own pocket," explained Davis.
Some advice from postal inspectors, research before you invest and be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true, "Talk to a friend, good friend and say 'Hey, I got this opportunity to invest. What do you think about that opportunity to invest?'"
Misty said, "I wished I had told somebody what I was going to do so they could have told me not to do it."
Stacey was sentenced to a five year prison term with an additional three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay back restitution to victims of more than $260,000.
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