In 1998, Eric Bartoli, owner of Cyprus Funds - a Central America-based investment company - has rural communities in Northeast Ohio buzzing about a chance of lifetime. Mr. Bartoli tells investors that he has untold access to Central American trading opportunities and that the returns will be tax-free. Cyprus Funds will go on to raise $65 million from a total of 1,000 investors over the course of 4 years. The only problem: Bartoli doesn't have inside connections. Instead of making good on the business deals, Bartoli invests less than $4 million and pockets the rest. Bartoli lives on a massive Ohio farm with his wife and two children. Behind his home sits a renovated barn with chandeliers. Next to the barn: a 16th century style pub. He also has a basketball court and putting green nearby. Bartoli seems to have it all. But in late August of 1999, the SEC comes calling. Cyprus Funds' headquarters in Doylestown, Ohio is raided in the middle of the night. An investor meeting is held the next day at a downtown church in Doylestown. Nearly 700 people show up and learn their investments are tied up in a scam. Bartoli leaves town before authorities can get to him.moreless
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