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Scammer pleads guilty to $24M real estate Ponzi scheme in California

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A California man pleaded guilty last week to crimes related to a $24 million real estate Ponzi scheme that spanned almost two decades. 

Paul Horton Smith Sr., 59, of Moreno Valley in Riverside County, scammed more than 200 investors and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Operating under companies such as Northstar Communications LLC, Planning Services Inc., and eGate LLC, Smith targeted elderly or retired people, between July 2000 and May 2020. 

He convinced investors to put their money into what he called “Northstar,” misrepresenting it as an annuity or a similar secure real estate investment. Some investors were former clients of Planning Services.


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