SEC Action Against
Prime Bank Scam Investment Fraud Scheme Tri-West Investment
Club Offering High-Yield Instruments
09/01 - The SEC filed a securities fraud lawsuit
in connection with a scam that has raised at least $30 million,
possibly $53 million, from 6000 investors by offering phony "Prime
Bank" investments over the Internet.
According to documents Tri-West Investment Club of
Belize City, Belize and San Diego, California and Alyn
Richard Waage, a Canadian citizen residing in Puerta Vallarta,
Mexico, through the now-closed website, www.triwestinvest.com solicited
a minimum $1,000 investment in a "bank debenture trading program" secured
by "certain key International Prime Banks" and claimed
to guarantee a 120% annual rate of return with no risk to investors.
Tri-West's website claimed that the "bank debenture trading
program" was managed by Haarlem Universal Corporation,
purportedly "one of the largest and most prestigious trading
companies in the world" with a thirty year history of generating
high returns for investors. According to the Commission, however,
Haarlem is not a registered investment company, and has been in
existence only since the scheme began in 1999.
Tri-West lists members of its management team as Jason Kingsley,
Mark Goldman and Alan Richards. Authorities believe that all are
aliases used by Waage.
Mexican authorities recently arrested Waage on suspicion of money
laundering for entering Mexico with a suitcase containing $4.5
million in undeclared cashiers checks made payable to Haarlem.
Tri-West halted payments to investors on May 1, following this "unfortunate
event," described on their site as, "A Tri-West courier
with investment checks and payroll experienced trouble en route
for deposit in our Latvian payment account." "The courier
had to make an unscheduled layover and didn't know he had to declare
checks in excess of $10,000 USD."
Acting on a tip from the FBI, Costa Rican authorities recently
captured Californian James Michael Webb, 39,
and 55-year-old Alyn Richard Waage,
a Canadian, who are wanted in California on charges that they set
up a fake investment site, then used slick web advertising to swindle
unsuspecting internet users.
Tri-West also offered a 15 percent "referral bonus" to
investors who solicited new money, which prompted the creation
of satellite Web sites recruiting new investors.
Shortly after police and soldiers arrested them at their office in downtown
San Jose, authorities froze various Costa Rican bank accounts worth more
than $US 5 million and also seized a mansion on the outskirts of Costa
Rica's capital, a yacht, ten luxury cars and a helicopter, all belonging
to the suspects.
Officials expected them to be extradited to the United States to stand
trial within 60 days. Waage has been a fugitive from Canadian judicial
authorities since 1998, when he jumped bail following his arrest on 30
counts of fraud related to an Edmonton mortgage scam.
By KEITH BRADFORD, EDMONTON SUN
Albertan pledges to pay victims back
An Alberta man accused of masterminding a $60-million Internet investment
scam has agreed to a guilty plea in a dramatic twist to the case, say U.S.
Alyn Richard Waage has been charged with six counts of mail fraud, 10 counts
of wire fraud, seven counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy
to commit money laundering.
A document filed with a California court says Waage, from the Nisku area,
will plead guilty to two counts of mail and wire fraud as well as the conspiracy
charge after earlier pleading not guilty to all charges.
He has also agreed to pay "full restitution" to his victims.
"It's great news.
"I'm just hoping that everyone gets their money back," said Cheryl
Eburne, of Coquitlam, B.C., who said she lost about $14,000 after getting involved
with the Tri-West Investment Club.
"The money is gone and, basically, I'm struggling on a disability pension
U.S. authorities claim Tri-West promised members a high return on their
money, bonuses for finding new members and no risk on original investments.
They also said the "Ponzi scheme" used cash from new investors
to pay earlier investors. About 15,000 people worldwide lost money, it
Cary Waage - Alyn Waage's son - pleaded guilty in April 2002 to charges
of mail fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering.
Alyn Waage and his alleged partner, Web site designer James Michael Webb
of California - who jointly faced 24 charges after being extradited in
December 2002 from Costa Rica - originally both pleaded not guilty to all
Under the terms of Alyn Waage's agreed plea, he will forfeit to U.S. authorities
any rights, titles or interests in the proceeds of the alleged mail- and
Waage will also not try to discharge any "restitution obligations" in
any bankruptcy proceedings.
U.S. authorities will recommend a reduction in his sentence to as low as
10 years if he co-operates.
His assistance could also mean authorities will recommend Cary Waage is
sentenced to just three years.
05/28/04 - EDMONTON -- U.S. Justice Department officials yesterday
indicted a Saskatchewan man in connection with what they allege
is the largest Internet investment fraud in history. The scam's
alleged mastermind, Nisku's Alyn Richard Waage, was arrested by
Mexican authorities in April 2001.
Fourteen counts have now been laid against Keith Nordick,
41, of Saskatchewan in connection with operations of the Tri-West
investment Club, which officials allege was a $60-million scam.
Nordick was arrested in Los Angeles on May 13 after he was expelled
U.S. authorities claim Tri-West, which operated between 1999 and
2001, promised members a high return on their money, bonuses for
finding new members, and no risk on original investments.
Prosecutors also said the "Ponzi scheme" used cash from
new investors to pay earlier investors. About 15,000 people worldwide
lost money, they claim.
Waage pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy
to commit money laundering in 2003, and is awaiting sentencing.
Also awaiting sentencing is James Michael Webb, 41, a California
website designer with Tri-West Investment Club, who was indicted
on numerous charges and pleaded guilty in 2003.
Cary Waage, Alyn Waage's son, pleaded guilty in April 2002 to
charges of mail fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering.
U.S. authorities are still looking for two other people, Lynn
Waage Johnston, Alyn Waage's sister and Evan Theodore Pryor Smith.
07/04 - California - In a Sacramento courtroom on Friday, a 28-year-old
Canadian learned he will spend 50 months in prison for his role
in an Internet-based investment scheme that bilked $58 million
out of more than 15,000 investors.
Even though he's been sentenced to more than four years behind bars,
things could have been much worse for Cary Waage. Because he cooperated
with authorities, Waage was given a reduced term by U.S. District Judge
The scheme operated by Waage solicited investors to put money into what
was termed a "bank debenture trading program." Online promotional
materials promised a 120 percent return on investments placed with the
Tri-West Investment Club.
The investment program was run as a "Ponzi scheme," using money
from new investors to pay off early participants. As the number of investors
grew, Wage and his partners siphoned off money that was used to purchase
property in Central America, luxury cars, a yacht and a helicopter.
Two other men involved in the scheme have already entered guilty pleas
to fraud charges. One of those men is Waage's father. A third man is
in custody and awaiting trial, while authorities are still looking for
Waage's sister and another suspect.