Feds Charge Pair in $100 million Ponzi Scheme


Two Woodland Hills men accused of orchestrating a 15-year-long Ponzi scheme that defrauded nearly 2,000 investors of more than $100 million were charged Tuesday in federal court.

Joel Barry Gillis, 74, and Edward Wishner, 76, operated Nationwide Automated Systems Inc. in Calabasas, allegedly promising investors 20 percent annual returns if they purchased an ATM.

The men would allegedly entice investors to pay about $12,000 for each ATM, leasing the machine back to NASI in return for a payment of 50 cents for each transaction the unit processed.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shut down NASI in late September and the matter was investigated by the FBI, which led to the charges filed Tuesday.

Gillis and Wishner were each charged with conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. If convicted, the men could face up to 20 years in federal prison on each of the four charges, according to a statement released Tuesday by Justice Department.

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