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You may have lost money in your investment portfolio,
due to mismanagement and not even know it.

Like many investment scams, it worked for awhile, then imploded

In the annals of fraudulent investment schemes, it wasn't notably sophisticated or disingenuous. What it was, at least from the perspective of its perpetrators, was effective, and for a number of years.

How many variations are there on what a recent media article termed "a classic investment fraud that promised extravagant returns?"

Verily, many.

The one that recently netted a Southern California man a lengthy prison term focused upon alleged oil and gas wells.

Alas, they didn't exist. They were played up mightily, though, along with visions of great profits for investors who got in on the ground floor of a hyped opportunity.

It is often said that a promise of an eye-popping return on an investment is virtual proof of its bogus character, and the scam promoted by a Costa Mesa entity calling itself Progressive Energy Partners would certainly qualify for inclusion in any list of companies guaranteeing riches to investors. In fact, Progressive Energy told the more than 200 victims it duped that they would rake in 50-percent annual returns on the money they handed over.

What they got instead were headaches, being collectively ripped off over a multi-year period of more than $11 million. Government regulators say that the architects of fraud -- the above-cited individual, his brother and another individual -- spent millions of the dollars received on themselves.

"[I]nvestors' money was simply being used to line the pockets of the scammers," a federal attorney recently stated.

One of the scammers recently received a decade-long prison term for his involvement in the fraudulent scheme. The government also ordered him to pay $9 million in restitution to his many victims.

The other defendants have yet to be sentenced.

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