A Florida Ponzi scheme involving a prominent attorney allegedly bilked investors out of at least $800 million. Michael J. McNerney, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and legal counsel for Mutual Benefits Corporation, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, May 18thto a charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated that McNerney allegedly "defrauded investors by providing 'legal cover' to what was essentially nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. McNerney abused his position of trust and used his law license to help commit this massive fraud."
The scheme revolved around the alleged sale of viatical settlements to investors by Mutual Benefits Corp. These were based on life insurance policies on the elderly or terminally ill. The investors were told they would collect when the person died within a set amount of time. However, Mutual Benefits Corp. has been accused of providing inaccurate estimates of how long the insured would live, and ultimately running a Ponzi scheme. In reality, most of the life insurance policies did not mature and most of the investors were never paid.
McNerney is only one of ten individuals who have pleaded guilty in the scheme. The case dates back to 2008, involves millions of documents, and is growing ever more complex. It could be another two years before the alleged leaders of the scheme go to trial.
If you have been the victim of a Fort Lauderdale Ponzi scheme, contact the investment fraud lawyers with David P. Meyer & Associates. We represent victims of Florida securities fraud in stockbroker mediation, arbitration, and litigation.