A man was arrested Thursday after he was suspected of convincing an elderly couple to invest $61,000 of their retirement fund into his fake business company.
Fresno County sheriff’s deputies began their investigation in June 2016 when they received a report that James Leroy Johnson, 69, was taking advantage of a Friant couple in their 70s. A family member introduced Johnson to the couple in 2011. The man told the pair that he owned an investment company named First Light Trading LLC, the investigation revealed.
Johnson told the couple if they invested it would make them rich, the Sheriff’s Office reported. The victims gave him $61,000 in exchange for a certificate that claimed they owned 250,000 shares of stock in the start-up, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
The couple tried to cash out their investment after they were told it accumulated to 1.2 million shares. Johnson told them he sold the company and would not be able to give them their money until the sale was finalized, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
The victims contacted him multiples times, but Johnson kept making up excuses, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
During the investigation, authorities learned that the company was fake. A judge issued an arrest warrant March 21 and Johnson was arrested Thursday. Officials found Johnson, who is an ex-convict who spent time in prison for conducting another Ponzi scheme, in Agoura Hills, west of Los Angeles.
Johnson was booked into the Fresno County Jail where he faces felony charges of elderly abuse related to financial fraud.