American Greed Episode 60: The $400 Million Rip-Off

Case File

The $400 Million Rip-Off

  • The Gambler
  • Once an up and coming stockbroker, Nicholas Cosmo turned to a life a crime in order to save his own skin. Cosmo had a gambling addiction and discovered how to hustle and con investors. He worked New York's boiler rooms, funneling investor money into his personal accounts to pay gambling debts…that is, until he went to prison.
  • Agape World Inc.
  • It appeared that Nicholas Cosmo did not learn his lesson. The same month he's released from prison, Cosmo establishes a new corporation, Agape World Inc. By 2007 Agape appeared to be a very successful money-lending firm specializing in short-term bridge loans for big real estate developments.
  • The Investors
  • Thousands of working class investors including cops, teachers, hairdressers and builders, believed Agape World Inc. was a good place to put their money. They were lured by the promise of high returns. But they would soon find out Nicholas Cosmo was a con artist running a scam and using their money to fuel his habit.

Web Extras

  • American Greed: $400 Million Rip Off

    He's dubbed Long Island, New York's "Mini-Madoff." Nicholas Cosmo brought white-collar crime to blue-collar Americans and scammed thousands of trusting investors. American Greed takes you inside a $400 million Ponzi scheme.

  • nicholas-cosmo-200.jpg
    By: Jonathan Dienst|Chief Investigative Reporter, WNBC

    Scam artist Nicholas Cosmo says even as his latest scheme was imploding and putting the life savings of 4,000 people at risk, he thought he was “helping people.”

  • fbi_badge_200.jpg
    By: Lindsay Nadrich|CNBC Production Associate

    According to a 2011 Federal Bureau of Investigation report, securities and commodities fraud investigations have increased by more than 50 percent since 2008. Here's how you can protect yourself.

  • Read part of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service affidavit outlining the undercover investigation of Nicholas Cosmo.

  • Read about Nicholas Cosmo’s first fraud charges in 1998.

  • Hear the conference call between Cosmo and more than 100 concerned investors on January 23rd, 2009.

  • Nicholas Cosmo is serving a 25-year sentence for fraud. He describes life behind bars.