Man loses children's college savings and more in investment scam

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- You've worked hard for your money, and the last thing you want to do is hand it over to a thief. FOX6's Contact 6 offers tips on how to spot a bad financial advisor by simply listening for two words.

"I really thought it was my ticket out of working four part-time jobs. I really did," fraud victim Nathan Amsden said.

Amsden spent years saving so he could start making modest investments to prepare for his children's college education.

Then, Amsden met Bill Orestis, who began laying the groundwork to lure Amsden into an investment scam.

"What they were saying is they wanted to put a pool of people together to pool all their money together so they can get into the market to trade the Euro," U.S. Postal Inspector Dan Forristal said.

Orestis was very persuasive and offered to put money in himself.

"If I come up with 15, and you come up with 5, that will close the deal and cause the market is going really crazy right now and I want in on this. So he hooked me in. We closed that deal. I came up with $5,000 and he gave me a note, a personal note promising to pay me back," Amsden said.

And, he showed Amsden documentation illustrating what appeared to be the investment's track record.

"The victims would have a chance to look at what looked like real documentation from a website that is real from a company that actually traded the Euro and it would look like there were profit margins when in fact no money had been traded," Orestis said.

Meanwhile, the con men continued to ask Amsden for more money.

"I was always adding small amounts of principle to an imaginary figure that was snowballing in value," Amsden said.

Amsden was not alone. There were 18 victims who lost $1.4 million in this scam.

In the end Amsden had invested $60,000.

"It was all I had. All I had saved up for the girls` education. Life insurance policy, the college fund, everything in cash, everything in the checkbook. At that point that was the end of our dealings because I had nothing left. He knew I had nothing left," Amsden said.

"The worst part of the whole investigation, was when they had the opportunity to take money. They wouldn`t take 'most' of someone`s money. They would take 'all' of their money until there was no money left. It was never ending. They made sure to take every penny they could from people," Forristal said.

"It was pretty devastating just immediately because I felt like I`d made it. I felt like I had saved enough money. It took seven years to put it all together. I had a block of money and I was investing it like the big wigs do and it was going to pay off. I didn`t need to work so hard and I could quit one of my part-time jobs and we could start having Christmases, birthdays, vacations, girls go to school - to college," Amsden said.

FOX6's Contact 6 says you should always remember that any investment comes with a level of risk. There is no such thing as no risk, money guaranteed.

Orestis was sentenced to almost three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.