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Las Vegas has long been a crossroads for grifters, a place where people dream of riches -- or at least unrealistic returns on their investment.
The elusive Ponzi scheme artist Angelina Lazar appeared to have found paradise a few years ago in Las Vegas when she opened a foreign currency exchange business here called “Charismatic Exchange.”
She used her charisma to separate investors from many thousands of dollars before getting indicted on fraud charges and embarking on some akin to a world tour.
The FBI finally caught up to Lazar, and John L. Smith has chronicled her journey across the globe and the Internet in columns for The Nevada Independent.
Smith said Lazar had an interesting way to draw "investors" into her scheme. She would tell them she had investment software that would turn them a profit and would show them how in a demonstration. However, that software was actually a sample of investment software that used a sample investment that would turn a sample profit. It was essentially a loop that the software developers would use to sell the program.
From there, Smith said the scheme grew and Lazar became a guru of crypto currency like Bitcoin. She also wrote several checks to Republican Party fundraisers and was able to get meet and greets with politicians in Washington, D.C. and around the world. All of that improved her credibility and she was able to recruit more investors.
In the end, she pled guilty but the judge sent her back to her home country of Canada.
John L. Smith, contributor
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