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Fair Finance investors fear money is disappearing

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WOOSTER, Ohio—The throng of Fair Finance investors who gathered here Tuesday night to learn more about investigations into the Akron company fear their chances of recovering money is dwindling by the day.

Many of the more than 1,000 people who crowded into a college auditorium for the meeting believe Fair owner Tim Durham is frittering away the company’s assets as the weeks pass.

Investors applauded every time Rep. John Boccieri, the Ohio Democrat who organized the 90-minute meeting, said he was hellbent on getting the government to lock down whatever money remains.

“His assets and the assets of the company need to be frozen until we get to the bottom of this,” said Boccieri, whose district includes five of Fair’s eight offices. “I won’t stop until this happens.”

Investors gathered in hopes of learning more about FBI and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probes into the consumer-finance firm, which is owned by Durham and fellow Indianapolis businessman Jim Cochran.

They left frustrated after they heard little new. Representatives of the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Securities said that by law they couldn’t even confirm the existence of investigations. And Boccieri said the FBI backed out of the meeting at the last minute out of fear public comments could compromise its inquiry.

Fair Finance has been shut down since Nov. 24, when FBI agents raided the company’s headquarters and Durham’s Indianapolis office. The same day, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis filed court papers alleging Fair was operating as a Ponzi scheme, raising ever more money from Ohio residents to pay off prior investors.

The raid occurred one month after IBJ reported in an investigative story that Durham and Cochran had used Fair almost like a personal bank since buying it in 2002, tapping it for tens of millions of dollars in insider loans.

The owners and related parties now have rung up more than $168 million in insider loans. IBJ reported the massive loans cast doubt on whether Fair has the financial wherewithal to repay Ohio residents who purchased $200 million of Fair’s investment certificates.

Investors said Tuesday night they fear little of their money is left, and whatever scraps remain might disappear while investigators continue their work.

“I’d be shocked to get my money back,” said 66-year-old Brady Cassidy of Wooster, who purchased $90,000 in certificates. “I think this is another Madoff deal,” referring to the New York financier who ran a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Tim Morrison, the U.S. attorney in Indianapolis, filed a civil lawsuit Nov. 24 seeking to freeze Durham’s assets but dropped it six days later. He has declined to elaborate on that decision, beyond saying, “Having [received] appropriate assurance [assets] are not being dissipated, that litigation stopped.”

But Boccieri and investors fear money is disappearing anyway. The congressman first called for an asset freeze on Fair and its owners in December. He renewed the call this month after word spread that Cochran had posted an ad on Craigslist for an estate sale at his $3.5 million Naples, Fla., home. The sale occurred as scheduled, and Cochran unloaded everything from Bentley and Porsche automobiles to a 28-foot boat and a large potted plant.

Federal investigators have refused to discuss their investigation or speculate on when they will wrap up. Fair principals have denied doing anything improper, and they have not been charged with crimes.

Investors attending Tuesday’s meeting were eager for a quick resolution. The majority of attendees were elderly and had been counting on Fair investments to help carry them through their final years.

“I can’t understand why the FBI is taking so long,” said 74-year-old Beverly Isom of Wooster, who is owed more than $40,000.

But Doug Durshal, a Wooster attorney representing investors in a lawsuit against Fair, predicted a long slog lies ahead. He said investors won’t know how they’ll fare for a long time.

“Many months would be fast,” Durshal said after the meeting. “If it is resolved in a year or two, I’d be pleased.”

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  • 1998 Pontiac Driver
    Sorry, but that money will not be coming back to you. The best you can hope for is a small settlement years down the road....pennies on the dollar at best. In a Ponzi, new issued securities provide the cash for your redemption. With their sales stopped, now there's no cash. Durham has squandered most of the previous cash on bad companies, over-priced cars, and a lavish lifestyle. Sorry for the bad news!
  • Scott Rothstein pleads guilty to $1.2B Ponzi today
    Keep in mind Tim Durham offered over $1.5 BILLION in investment certificates from 2002-2009....it wasn't just $200M....

    100 years in prison is Rothstein's punishment, potential observers state

  • Focus on Tim Morrisson
    Can the IBJ put any pressure on Tim M or is he just doing his job. Hoping Tim D and Cockran would sell their assets (allegally) dispite the assurances he got?

    From IBJ:
    Tim Morrison, the U.S. attorney in Indianapolis, filed a civil lawsuit Nov. 24 seeking to freeze Durhamâ??s assets but dropped it six days later. He has declined to elaborate on that decision, beyond saying, â??Having [received] appropriate assurance [assets] are not being dissipated, that litigation stopped.â??
  • A victim speaks
    lived in my meens and was gonna buy new car with savings which my neibor said to take to Fair Financial own by Mr. Fair. They told me my money was just like CD cash and not to worry. I dont know what to do. Please can someone tell me what to do.Thank you for help and God bless.
    • ASTON
      How much do they want for it? I believe it was originally about $32k when damaged.
    • Neighbors can help
      The neighbors need to be using their cell cameras to videotape Durham and Cochran. Get it all on tape.
    • House Lease
      That is yet another way to convert a mortgaged asset into cash. Pocket the monthly rent check and skip paying the mortgage(s), knowing it will 6 to 9 months at least before the sheriff comes knocking (at least for matters related to the house).
    • other boards
      What other forums, blogs, web sites are good sources for information on this issue?
    • RICO
      IMHO, here's why this is moving so slow. The Fed is giving him enough rope to hang himself. They're getting ready to throw the BIG book at him and his cronies.

      Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimesââ?¬â??27 federal crimes and 8 state crimesââ?¬â??within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $250,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages.
    • Cash
      What little cash was left has long since disappeared into various mattresses. Even if the Feds had seized the assets, they would have to go through proper channels to liquidate them, and I promise there are so many liens and UCC filings, there would have been very little for the investors. Low lifes like this lease/rent everything, including their friends. There's not an ounce of equity in anything they "own." Once the cash flow stops, there are no chairs for anybody, so they all just walk away. The only way to raise cash from these assets is to sell them without telling the folks you have hocked them to. Perhaps selling a car at auction and taking the cash but not turning over the title because it's in a bank vault somewhere. Or maybe having an estate sale where everything is sold for cash, and nobody has time for a title search.

      The frustrating part is this thing will drag out for years, these dirt bags will keep living a good life (not quite where they were, but a far cry better than those they stole from), and we will all eventually tire of the story and let it fade away.
    • Do Something
      Why has this Congressman from Ohio requested a freezing of assets twice and has not even received a reply from Tim Morrison? Maybe Morrison should be held liable when they finally discover that these crooks have dumped everything and have hidden the money. Hey Durham the people of Ohio are waiting to hear from you. Move over Bernie your going to have a new cell mate!
    • Classic shut down right before Christmas
      Timothy S Durham is a LOSER Classic got shut down by Merchants bank, another bank that got stiffed by Durham
    • occupy Morrison's office
      If Morrison worked in my home town, we would be occupying his office until the police removed us. Then, we would hold vigils outside his office. A few hundred senior investors outside the DOJ would do wonders.
    • Re
      Cochran didn't even help those two dudes load up the gigantic plant....lazy as*

      But that's to be expected from someone who can't make money honestly

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