As investigator Jessica Larche found, one group of investigators could have saved a million dollars if they had known that those words, in most cases, indicate a scam.
“This individual went down to Bolivia, you know, wined and dined them basically and told them that everything was guaranteed and they can make money on the stock exchange, and they just had to send the money and he would take care of everything for you. He told them that they could get basically a rate of return of 18% guaranteed,” says Hope Cerda, a Postal Inspector.
300 victims sent Gallardo, who was born in Argentina, a little more than a million dollars.
“He was very charismatic. He knows the language. He was able to befriend these people,” says Cerda.
They were enticed by the fact that he was from South America and that he had made it in the United States so they figured that he could help them make it.
The people who invested with Gallardo were not rich.
“All of them are working class people. They don`t have a lot of money. They were looking to better themselves. They weren`t looking to make millions of dollars, they were just looking to help their families out,” says Cerda.
Authorities say Gallardo deposited their money in his own bank account.
“He took the money and went on vacations. He had nice cars, he had a beautiful home. He just spent the money any way he wanted to make his life better,” says Cerda.
The take-away from this case: “If someone is guaranteeing you a rate of return that is much higher than you know to be factual, it most likely is a scam.”
“Guaranteed rate of return” are the four words to listen for and when you hear them run in the other direction.
As for Gallado, he was convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay almost $900-thousand dollars in restitution.