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Lawsuit claims softball coach was Bernie Madoff wanna-be

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Experts on Ponzi schemes will tell you that the victims are often preyed upon by a trusted person in their inner circle, such as a church member, a neighbor, or someone with whom they share an ethnic tie. However, until now, I had never heard of that trusted person being your daughter’s high school softball coach.

Even for Ponzi scheme victims, these softball parents, if a recent lawsuit is to be believed, set new standards for being what Bugs Bunny would call gulli-bulls. If Louisville, Colo., Monarch High coach Richard Dale Mott had an $11 billion fortune and a mansion stocked with expensive cars, why the hell would he be coaching girls’ high school softball? For the investment contacts? To give back to the community? (Boy, if he said that last one, that REALLY should have been a tip-off.)

Technically, what Mott is accused of doing is loan fraud, because he allegedly didn’t even get far enough to “invest” proceeds anymore. But the dynamics are the same.

From the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo.:

Randy Davenport, who was president of the Monarch Fastpitch Softball Club and whose daughter plays on the team, sued Richard Dale Mott after he said he was unable to recover $80,000 he loaned Mott to fund a supposed gypsum mining operation in Wyoming.

Davenport alleged in his suit that Mott, who resigned as coach from the Louisville high school in December, had promised him a $50,000 interest payment on the loan and had guaranteed the loan with a promissory note.

Mott also got loans from “numerous members of the Monarch High School parent community” that he never repaid, the suit states.

Davenport claimed that Mott, who was hired by the Boulder Valley School District in the summer of 2008, made off with $185,000 total from four or five investors, including himself.

“It’s an expensive lesson and one that I will be paying for,” Davenport said Thursday. “I want to see that guy suffer some kind of consequences for what he’s done.”

According to the Daily Camera story, Davenport said Mott told the parents he had set aside $25 million for each of his children. In reality, Mott lived in a rented house and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and had settled numerous breach-of-contract cases in the past. (The newspaper called various Richard Motts, but it could not find the one in question.)

We can agree that Richard Mott, if he did what Davenport said he did, is a bad person. So is Bernard Madoff. So is Allen Stanford. And so is Nicholas Cosmo, who at least plowed some of the $375 million he apparently swindled out of suckers in his Ponzi scheme back into youth sports.

But jumpin’ Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, how greedy and/or dense do you have to be to hand $80,000 over to your daughter’s softball coach to invest in some bullshit you don’t understand, even if the coach is Charles Fuckin’ Schwab? Did the Monarch parents ever, oh, stop by his mansion to check it out? Do a Google search on Mott? Check the Forbes 500 to see if Mott’s name was in it? (At $11 billion, it would have been.) Get statements on the potential investment and run them by a financial adviser? Ask themselves why their daughters’ softball team was coached by a billionaire who needed to hustle parents for money? Find out what gypsum was?

Ponzi scheme experts will tell you that the scammers know what they’re doing, that their delivery is smooth, and that peer pressure can take over good judgment, especially if your friends are getting statements back about how fabulously their investments are doing. As the old saying goes: If it sounds too good to be true, it is. And, if your daughter’s softball coach approaches you with a hot investment, ask why, if the coach is so smart, he or she still can’t figure out how to teach players how to field a ground ball cleanly.

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And if that isn’t enough to help you avoid investment scams, perhaps this video will help. Ahem, her face is up there.

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Ponzi Arena at Madoff Park

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It seems like everything week we get word of another high-flying financier busted for running a high-flying finance firm that’s nothing but the low finance of pyramid schemes. In this week’s installment of Ponzis on Parade, we get a guy who not only screwed over investors, but also children who thought they would be playing sports this winter!

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A large Long Island youth sports complex is going to be shut down for quite some time after its financier was busted on charges related to running a Ponzi scheme, according to Newsday. Well, it’s not like anyone could get too used to the place: it was opened one Saturday morning, and shut down by fire marshals that same afternoon.

Even before its financier got busted, the facility was under siege (rightfully so, it sounds like) from city hall over its construction, and the federal charges only finalize what has been going on since early December — apparently hundreds of young soccer, football, baseball, basketball and lacrosse players are either scrambling to find somewhere else to play, or just out of luck because of the closure of the $3.5 million National Tournament Athletic Center in Hauppage, N.Y. Authorities say its funding came from a $370 million Ponzi scheme run by one Nicholas Cosmo, a 37-year-old now in jail on charges of mail fraud for a scheme that allegedly bilked more than 1,500 investors.

According to Newsday, Cosmo also used $300,000 to fund a travel baseball league he founded. If you were planning on having your child in the NTB Travel Baseball League this spring, you might want to make other arrangements. (I called both numbers on the Web site — one sends you to an automatic voicemail with Nick Cosmo saying his name, and a prerecorded note that he is not available. Boy, isn’t he. The other number is for Agape World, his finance company. If you press 0 for the operator, you get a message that the mailbox is full. Boy, isn’t it.)

I feel terrible for the children getting shafted through no fault of their own. However, I grow less and less sympathetic for the investors in supposed guaranteed-return deals. Nothing is guaranteed, folks. More than a year ago, a long, long thread started about Agape World on a site called FatWallet.com, where not only was it made clear that Cosmo had a previous felony conviction (with jail time) for fraud, but that he also had to get “intensive outpatient gambling therapy” as well. And it appears Cosmo appeared on the site to cop that it was all true!

And here people used to think the lottery was a tax on stupidity.