SAN ANSELMO (KPIX 5) — A Bay Area woman is getting credit for taking down an investment company that scammed thousands of investors out of millions of dollars.
Seven executives of the company have been convicted and all but one have already been sentenced to prison.
Ingrid Robinson of San Anselmo said she will be in Philadelphia for the final sentencing next month. Robinson spent eight years going after the company that defrauded her.
Robinson invested $10,000 in Remington Financial in what she later learned was an advanced fee scam.
She said she smelled a rat just weeks after giving the company her money.
“Something was not right in River City,” said Robinson. The company’s own ads at the time promised investors “connections” to hundreds of investors that would fund business projects.
Like other investors, Robinson lost more than her initial investment. She had planned to build a multi-million dollar resort at Clear Lake.
But those connections were bogus. She had a feeling something was wrong after she received a rejection letter. She then exchanged emails with Remington executives demanding an explanation. When she finally reached one executive on the phone, she was told: “Ah Ingrid, you sound like an hysterical woman. We don’t know what we’re missing here because we’re trying everything we can to fund your deal.”
“I heard that. If you think I’m hysterical now, just wait. I’ll become your worst nightmare,” Robinson said.
Robinson went online and found hundreds of other victims who were scammed into giving up $10,000 to $25,000 in advanced fees and that no one got their investments, either.
She even discovered the companies Remington bragged about helping had never heard of the financial group. But Robinson’s calls and complaints fell on deaf ears. She reported her complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, Treasury investigators and state attorneys general and no one would take the case. She was told there was too little money involved.
Robinson kept digging. In all, there were as many as 2,000 victims worldwide scammed out of $26 million dollars. “I was talking to victims everywhere. Russia. Everywhere. Everywhere. Nobody wanted to connect the dots,” Robinson said.
Investors believed in the company. Remington had once been a trusted company. It had an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau.
She finally convinced the U.S. Department of Justice’s Fraud Division to take the case.
A grand jury indicted Remington founder Andrew Bogdanoff, his partner Matthew McManus, and five other executives of bilking their victims of millions of dollars in advance fees. Investigators found the scheme included instructing employees not to “let the truth get in the way” when selling their promises. The principals of the company were also convicted of money laundering, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
But Robinson is not done. She’s pushing Congress to go after brokers who get fees for leading victims to bogus investment companies. “Literally tens of thousands of commercial brokers all over the world. All of them could do this and there’s nothing illegal. But if you cut off the head of the snake, the snake will have a harder time wiggling,” Robinson said.