$1.2 Million Recovered In Fund Scam

Source: Arizona Republic
Date: January 5, 2001

More than $1.2 million bilked from investors has been recovered by federal officials and will be returned to the fraud victims, authorities said Thursday.

Benjamin Franklin Cook III of Arizona was charged last August with 37 counts of racketeering, fraud and theft in connection with an investment scheme run by his company, Dennel Finance Ltd.

A U.S. Customs Service investigation resulted in a court order this week directing the Church of Scientology to return $1.2 million donated by Dennel Finance.

The church returned the funds to a receiver and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, authorities said.

The indictment alleges that Cook, a former Carefree resident, defrauded more than 300 investors of a total of $41 million, investing only $625,000.

Five government agencies investigated Cook's plan, which promised investors that their money would be placed in a European bank trading program. The agencies allege that Cook used the money to buy cars, airplanes, a house and other real estate.

Cook's assets have been seized and he is being held in Texas.

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