FBI Captures Ponzi Suspect After Underwater Escape Attempt

FBI Captures Ponzi Suspect After Underwater Escape Attempt

Matthew Piercey, a California investment firm leader, tried to flee while facing criminal charges for supposedly operating a $35 million Ponzi scheme. 

According to the FBI, Mr. Piercey allegedly evaded authorities for about an hour by driving his truck from his home in Redding, California, up until the edge of Lake Shasta. He then attempted to escape using an underwater “sea scooter.” He was apprehended after he spent roughly 25 minutes in the lake. 

Mr. Piercey now faces multiple wire fraud, money laundering, mail fraud, and witness tampering charges. 

Piercy Deceptively Used Investment Firms To Raise Millions

Based on the 31-count indictment unsealed earlier last month, he allegedly used his investment firms (Family Wealth Legacy LLC and Zolla Financial LLC) to deceptively raise millions of dollars that went to pay former investors, unapproved ventures, and personal expenses. 

The government released a statement explaining that the offenses imputed in Mr. Piercey’s case are severe, long-running, and have detrimentally affected numerous victims’ retirement accounts. It also added that the evidence on the case is strong, mentioning investor testimonies, documents, and bank records that show the falsity of the representations Mr. Piercey made. 

From 2015 through August of this year, the firm leader solicited funds for what purported to be a variety of investment opportunities  —  including fixed-return investments, securities, life insurance, health care investments, and cryptocurrency mining.

Piercey Potentially Faces Life In Prison

To lure investors, Mr. Piercey apparently lied about how the funds would be invested and misinformed victims about his investment strategies, fees, commissions, and other relevant information. 

Prosecutors maintain that he used roughly $8.8 million of the $35 million to pay “investment returns” to earlier investors in an attempt to convince them not to withdraw their funds. In contrast, $3.5 million was used to pay for Mr. Piercey’s luxurious lifestyle and real-estate ventures. 

Authorities also explained that few liquid assets remain to reimburse investors. 

According to the government’s filings, the former investment firm leader was first aware of the investigation in 2018 when the FBI contacted him. As a result, he started funneling the money to accounts that were not in his name, perpetuating the fraud. 

He also allegedly attempted to tamper with witnesses and tried to persuade investors to ignore grand jury subpoenas by claiming breach of contract with the firms if they decided to testify. 

As a result, Mr. Piercey could be facing life in prison.


Think You Have a Case? Speak with a Ponzi Scheme Lawyer 

Were you a victim of a Ponzi scheme? If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of a scheme, speak to an experienced investment fraud attorney today. Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A. has vast experience with cases related to Ponzi schemes. The firm has recovered millions of dollars for victims and we will aggressively pursue claims to recover your losses. 


Contact a Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein Attorney Today  

To schedule an appointment for a FREE case evaluation, contact a Ponzi Scheme attorney at Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A. today. 

Contact an investment fraud attorney at Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A. to schedule a FREE case evaluation. Our offices are located in Los AngelesNew YorkDetroitWest Palm BeachNaples, and Miami, and we represent clients nationwide. Translation services are available.