American Greed Episode 72: Wild West Rip-Off

Case File

Wild West Rip-Off

  • With a 30 year career in real estate, many thought broker Doug Vaughan was a man to be trusted. His charisma helped make him a fortune in New Mexico real estate. But it was all lies. He funded his luxurious living using investors' money to the tune of $75 million, who thought they were getting in on his guaranteed money making investments. When Vaughan ran out of investors and their money, investigators stepped in with undercover recorders to catch his investment pitch on tape and arrest him. He even went on TV in search of new money to pay for his criminal defense.


  • Living the High Life

    Doug Vaughan appears to be swimming in money. KOB-TV anchor Tom Joles, FBI special agent David Backlund, former employee Wayne Unze, and former investors Tommy Hightower and Philip Dugan discuss Vaughan's lavish lifestyle that made his business appear legitimate.

  • Business Model for Success

    By all appearances Doug Vaughan's business is doing "quite well." Investigators explain how Vaughan kept his investors in the dark.

  • Small Investment No Return

    F.B.I. Special Agent David Backlund describes how Vaughan chose specific people to pay back in order to keep the fraud going.

  • Vaughan Targets a Man with Dementia

    F.B.I. Special Agent David Backlund tells how Doug Vaughan takes advantage of an investors¿ deteriorating mental condition to take more of his money.

  • Read Doug Vaughn’s Indictment

  • Read Doug Vaughan’s Plea Agreement