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Green fans, born to be scammed. Finally, jail for a $54m fake green energy ponzi schemer

There are crooks in every field, but some fields are ripe for the picking.

If you wanted to run a scam would you a/ try to fool hard-nosed money changers in a mature industry that makes a real product or b/ pick the latest touchy feely fashionable trope and offer their fans, who are not good with cause, effect or numbers, a chance to feel great and get rich too?

From 2005 to 2009 a few US graduates straight out of college promised to turn biochar into energy and save the world as well. They raised $54m, gave $17m to the early investors and then promised 484% returns to later investors. The Clinton Foundation loved them, but they never made even a kilo of biochar. Not long after that the US SEC figured the scam out and shut them down. That was 2009. Then it only took 10 years to get one sentenced to 30 months jail.

If only the media had been more skeptical:

NBC Philadelphia:  30 months in prison for $54m Green Scam

[Amanda] Knorr co-founded a company called Mantria Corp., which with the help of a slick-talking Colorado “wealth advisor” raised millions for a supposed clean energy product called “biochar.”Their pitch about producing biochar, however, turned out to be completely baked, according to prosecutors, and eventually proved to be a giant Ponzi scheme.

Knorr was also sentenced to five years’ parole and ordered to pay $54 million in restitution. She so far has paid $10,000 through wage garnishments, according to prosecutors.

The Clinton Global Initiative, run by Bill and Hillary Clinton, link to Mantria on its website, ambiguously  praise the “committment” and value it at “$600,000”?” Did they fund it, or are we just meant to think they did?  There are many details and plans of how carbon sequestration would enrich the soils of Africa and cool the world on that site, but there’s only one progress report: This commitment was reported unfulfilled.

Biggest scam, my foot.

It’s being called the biggest scam involving clean energy, which it would be except for all the bigger scams, like wind farm rackets in Scotland who were paid £328m to do nothing, and the £1.8 billion consumers paid on giant interconnectors so that the wind farms could make a profit, or the $2 billion Russian and Ukrainian fake carbon credit scam. The Chinese hydrofluorocarbon factory scam, and the $5b VAT Tax fraud and the $100 billion plus dollars invested in scientists in the hope we might understand what causes climate change. And that’s just for starters…


From the Indictment Charges for “Green Energy” Ponzi Scheme (2015)

Between 2005 and 2009, Wragg, Knorr, and McKelvy, through Mantria, intended to raise over $100 million from investors through Private Placement Memorandums (PPMs). In actuality, they raised $54.5 million.  Wragg and Knorr were allegedly able to raise such a large sum of money through the efforts of McKelvy.  McKelvy operated what he called “Speed of Wealth” clubs which advertised on television, radio, and the internet, held seminars for prospective investors, and promised to make them rich.  According to the indictment, McKelvy taught investors to liquidate all their assets such as mutual funds and 401k plans, to take out as many loans out as possible, such as home mortgages and credit card debt, and invest all those funds in Mantria.  During those seminars and other programs, Wragg, Knorr, and McKelvy allegedly lied to prospective investors to dupe them into investing in Mantria and promised investment returns as high as 484%.

How could a groupthinker say “no”?

“The scheme alleged in this indictment offered investors the best of both worlds – investing in sustainable and clean energy products while also making a profit,” said Memeger.  “Unfortunately for the investors, it was all a hoax.

 That money isn’t coming back:

Of the $54 million believed to have been invested in Mantria, $17 million was returned to early investors to perpetuate the Ponzi scheme and make later investors believe huge profits could be had.

By the time the Securities Exchange Commission shut down Mantria in 2009, just $790,000 remained from the other $37 million.

A class action lawsuit filed in federal court eventually recovered about $6 million for victims of the scheme. Another $800,000 was placed in a receivership, overseen by a Colorado accountant John Paul Anderson. –NBC New York

Anderson – the accountant tasked with dispersing funds recovered in the class action lawsuit, has yet to distribute the money which remains in receivership.–Zerohedge

But some lawyers must have gotten rich.

We need to teach our children.  No. Free. Lunch. If someone tells you they can save the world for free and you can get rich quickly, it’s time to find out why everyone isn’t doing it already.

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