A local family says they lost their life savings after falling victim to an investment hustle.
They contacted Action 9 earlier this year and months later, federal investigators called it a $6 million Ponzi scheme.
“Daylight robbery done through fancy stuff that,” I van said.
Ivan regrets the day he met Kenneth Rossman at a financial seminar in The Villages. Over the course of 4 years, Rossman became Ivan’s accountant and friend.
“Totally, I befriended him, he used to come and have lunch. We talked about anything,” Ivan said.
Then Rossman mentioned a company called FastLife and told Ivan it was a good investment opportunity with large returns. FastLife would help consumers find insurance annuities. The company hired famous spokespeople like Pete Rose and Billy Ray Cyrus. Ivan and his wife Susan invested heavily.
“Over a period of time it became this ridiculous amount of $600,000. I have a great job of sleepless nights related to that figure,” Ivan said.
The couple’s daughter, Laine, also invested her life savings, $100,000.
“You’re like how did I even get into this, so it’s kind of a huge shock,” Laine said.
They were given promissory notes showing they would get 12% returns on their investments. When they didn’t see those returns and started asking questions, they were put in touch with the man behind FastLife, Phil Wasserman.
Wasserman, the self-proclaimed “Annuity King”, grew frustrated with questions from Ivan and his family. Ivan said he got an email from Wasserman calling him a “rat” and referring to a federal investigator as a “Nazi.”
“The fact that he just wants everyone to be quiet and we can’t be quiet anymore because it needs to be told and help others,” Laine said.
She complained to Action 9, state regulators and the IRS.
Several months after Action 9 talked to the family, Phil Wasserman and Ken Rossman were charged with bilking at least $6.3 million dollars from investors. Accused of running a Ponzi scheme and according to investigators, Wasserman used some of the money for fancy homes, cars and jewelry.
“I think I’d like to see them put away so they can’t take scams off anymore elderly people, they’ve been working I think the whole retirement communities in Florida,” Susan said.
Wasserman and Rossman pleaded innocent to the charges, their legal case is delayed to next year.
Laine and her family were initially given small returns, but that’s a classic pyramid scam that paves the way to even bigger investments and total losses.
“It really breaks my heart, to see my parents and they’re older, anything can happen,” Laine said.
In general, if you attend any investment seminar that offers no risk with guaranteed high returns, that’s a red flag you can’t afford to ignore.
Phil Wasserman contacted Action 9 to respond to our story. Wasserman denied all the allegations. He said the company never spent any investors money for personal gain.
Wasserman said he’s been the victim of a government vendetta, there are two sides to every story, and he’s ready to prove his innocence in court.