A Venice woman, her boyfriend and three of her family members have sued a Florida man for allegedly defrauding them of more than $3 million in a Ponzi scheme, according to a report by the Rancho Santa Fe Review.
Venice resident Giovanna Imbesi in 2010 invested about $200,000 and her boyfriend invested $25,000 with George Elia, 68, who ran Florida-based International Consultants and Investment Group, Ltd. Corp., according to the report. Her brother, Michael Imbesi, told the Rancho Santa Fe Review that he met Elia in 2005 and invested with him after Elia promised returns of 4 to 7 percent per quarter. Imbesi said that over the next several years he invested about $3.3 million with Elia. His parents, Peter and Marlene who are a retired Rancho Santa Fe couple, invested their life savings of $250,000 with Elia.
Giovanna Imbesi is the founder of Venice-based TuttoMedia, which has served as a recording studio and performance space in Venice. She also is an accomplished concert pianist and has recorded with Patti LaBelle among other artists. In addition, she has performed for movie sound tracks and has also appeared on late-night television talk shows.
The lawsuit was filed in Broward County, FL, after Elia in the spring of 2011 began to be tardy with quarterly statements and interest payments. The lawsuit names Elia, his wife, Darlene Elia, 51, and Elia's attorney, Frederick Braun.
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment that pays returns to its investors from their own money or from later investors, instead of from actual profits. The scheme often promise high returns to lure investors and is named after Charles Ponzi, who notoriously used the scheme in 1902 to defraud investors. A similar $1.9 million Ponzi scheme snared 29 victims, including a Marina del Rey woman, before it was discovered in 2005.
For more information, go to the full article in the Rancho Santa Fe Review.