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Episode 15: Driven By Greed | Conned in the Caribbean

Case File

Driven By Greed & Conned in the Caribbean
It's called the "Miracle Car Club." Two young men take investors for a ride to the tune of more than $21 million. American Greed profiles one of the largest car scams in U.S. history. And in our second case, it sounds too good to be true. An offshore bank promises astronomical returns to investors, 100% guaranteed. But, the bank is a sham and investors lose more than $170 million.

Case 1: Driven By Greed

  • Best Friends
  • James Nichols and Robert Gomez are friends. They work security together at a local office complex and dream of finding the fast track out of their poor L.A. County neighborhood. A lucrative opportunity emerges.
  • Miracle Car Club
  • Gomez claims he's the sole heir to a $411 million estate left by his adoptive father who wants to donate his assets to Christian people. The plan is simple. For $1,000 you can buy one of the estate's cars. Sounds like a steal. The faithful believe.
  • The Scam
  • Thousands of buyers, many from churches around the country, send their hard-earned cash to Nichols and Gomez. During the next four years, they take in more than $21 million! It's a story of American Greed.

Case 2: Conned in the Caribbean

  • An Offer Too Good To Be True
  • The First Int'l Bank of Grenada offers certificates of deposits with annual returns of more than 250%! Thousands buy into the plan. But, there's a catch...FIBG isn't worth the paper its shiny brochures are printed on.
  • The Mastermind
  • Con artist Van Brink and others used FIBG investor money as their personal piggy-bank account, buying luxury cars, expensive homes, private Learjet trips, an organic tomato farm and a yacht named "Off Shore Funs".
  • The Scam
  • FIBG's guaranteed high rates of return are nothing more than a fantasy. Investors lose more than $170 million. The FIBG con was the biggest Ponzi scheme in Oregon history.

Web Extras

  • Driven by Greed: American Greed 15 Case 1 Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 | 11:54 AM ET

    It's called the "Miracle Car Club." Two young men take investors for a ride to the tune of more than $21 million. American Greed profiles one of the largest car scams in U.S. history!

  • The Scam     Wednesday, 12 Mar 2008 | 12:00 AM ET

    See more from the Miracle Cars event.

  • Conned in the Carribean Wednesday, 18 Jul 2012 | 2:13 PM ET

    It sounds too good to be true. An offshore bank promises astronomical returns to investors...100% guaranteed. But, the bank is a sham and investors lose more than $170 million!

  • The Money     Wednesday, 12 Mar 2008 | 12:00 AM ET

    Hear how Van Brink and his cohorts squandered investorsâ?? money.

  • Protecting Yourself Thursday, 30 Aug 2012 | 3:39 PM ET

    Ten misconceptions about offshore banking.

  • Phone Assets Thursday, 30 Aug 2012 | 3:39 PM ET

    Check out a list of FIBG's phony assets.

American Greed Showtimes

Nose No Bounds
Monday, April 21st 7p ET/PT
Murder in Memphis
Saturday, April 26th 1a, 3a ET/PT
Check the U.S. TV schedule for additional showtimes.
#AmericanGreed

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