Former Utah Scoutmaster Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for $145M Ponzi Scheme
Draper, Utah Ponzi Schemer Who Used Real Estate Loan Fund Waterford Funding Ordered to Repay $43.2 Million to Elderly Investors
Travis Wright, of Draper, Utah, received a 10-year federal prison sentence last Friday for defrauding more than 175 investors out of approximately $350 million. Wright admitted to the Ponzi scheme in May 2011. As part of Wright’s sentence, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ordered the former Utah scoutmaster to repay $43.2 million in restitution.
According to court documents, Wright acted as the sole manager of Waterford Funding, a real estate loan fund, from September 1999 to March 2009.
Wright told investors the fund would render returns of 8 to 44 percent in as little as nine months. Investors, most of whom were elderly, forked over more than $100 million in the nine-and-a-half year period.
In a July 2010 Complaint, the SEC accused Wright of making various misrepresentations to investors in Waterford Funding, including statements that investor funds would be used exclusively to make loans secured by commercial real estate. The SEC also accused Wright of telling investors their promissory notes were secured by a trust.
An SEC investigation, however, revealed that the trust never existed, and that Wright was using investors’ funds to make loans and investments that had nothing to do with real estate, as well as for his personal purposes. (For more information about the SEC’s investment fraud case against Travis Wright, click here.)
U.S. District Court documents showed that Wright stole more than $15 million of investor money for his personal use. Along with lavish vacations, luxury items, and a $5 million home, Wright gave his wife $1.3 million in spending money. The investment scheme unraveled in 2008, when Wright stopped making "interest" payments to investors.
Wright’s Ponzi scheme was one of the largest Ponzi schemes perpetrated in Utah history. Wright officially pled guilty to one count of felony mail fraud. His charges with the SEC were settled in June 2011.