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Ponzi schemer who ripped off thousands in Southern Illinois, elsewhere gets 17 years in prison

For more than 10 years, Pieter Roor, also known as Pedro Dispenza, 66, of The Netherlands, duped thousands of unsuspecting American investors into sending him money with the promise of large returns. Instead of investing the money, Roor took it for himself. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois today said that Roor’s run has come to an end.

scalesofjusticelogoOn Thursday, Aug. 16, Senior U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert sentenced Roor to 17 years in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft announced. The sentence comes on the heels of Roor’s conviction earlier this year on two counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud after a three-day bench trial in Benton, Ill. In rendering the verdict, Judge Gilbert observed that the evidence the government presented against Roor was “absolutely crushing.”

The evidence established that, from 1998 to 2010, Roor and his then-wife, Heleen Potman, operated a series of internet-based Ponzi schemes, which were offered to on-line consumers as high-yield investment opportunities. The schemes had various names, including Oxford Savings Club, AceInvest, MiAmigo Services, Dollar Dazzler, X-Wire, Private Clearing Brokers, the Happy Society, and We Let Your Money Grow. Some promised returns of as much as 4.2 percent per day, with occasional partial payouts to help string investors along. Through each iteration, as investors learned their investments were not being returned, the phony program would close and re-open under another name.

In total, the fake investment schemes landed Roor and Potman more than $2.5 million.

To conceal the illegal nature of their activity, Roor and Potman regularly incorporated businesses within the United States, as well as other countries throughout the world, including Great Britain, the Netherlands, Panama, and Belize. A multi-national investigation showed that the husband and wife duo routed investor’s money globally through multiple PayPal accounts, on-line currency accounts such as eGold and eBullion, and bank accounts in Latvia, Germany, The Netherlands, Great Britain, the United States, Belize, and Egypt. In furtherance of the scheme, Roor adopted a pseudonym, Pedro Dispenza, and obtained a Belizian passport and driver’s license in that name. One of the victims – identified in court documents as “H.D.” – was a resident of Carbondale, Ill., who invested approximately $150,000 in the scams.

Roor and Potman were both indicted in the Southern District of Illinois in 2010. While that case was pending, the pair were tried, convicted and sentenced for a host of crimes in the Netherlands. After serving their Dutch sentences, they were extradited separately to the United States to face prosecution on the American charges. In 2015, Potman pled guilty in the Southern District of Illinois to her role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to five years in prison. After serving approximately one year in federal custody awaiting the resolution of her case, Potman was transported back to the Netherlands to serve the remainder of her sentence.
In addition to his 204-month prison sentence, Roor was also ordered to pay in excess of $900,000 in restitution to his known victims and to forfeit his Dutch home and $3.2 million in fraudulent proceeds.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, with extensive cooperation from the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service.

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