U.S. Customs Investigation Recovers $1.2 Million from Investment Swindle

U.S. Customs Investigation Recovers $1.2 Million from Investment Swindle  (2021) 
United States Customs Service

U.S. Customs Investigation Recovers $1.2 Million from Investment Swindle. United States Customs Service. Press Release. January 4, 2001. (available online)


Thursday, January 4, 2001

U.S. Customs Investigation Recovers $1.2 Million from Investment Swindle

Phoenix, Ariz. -- A U.S. Customs Service task force investigation of Arizona businessman Benjamin Franklin Cook has resulted in the recovery of $1,215,000 from the Church of Scientology. The money had been donated to the Church by Cook's business, Dennel Finance Limited. The church returned the funds to a federal receiver representing victims of Cook's investment scam. The money will be returned to investors who were swindled by Cook. The Church of Scientology has not been accused of wrongdoing.

The investigation of Cook was initiated in February 1999 after the U.S. Customs Service received information from the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The ACC received several complaints from individuals who were dissatisfied with their investments in Dennel Finance.

Based on the ACC information, a task force consisting of Customs, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Arizona Attorney General's Office launched an intensive investigation of Cook and his company. The investigation resulted in the seizure of $9,284,300 in currency; $15,540,800 in real estate; and $1,165,095 worth of vehicles, boats, planes, and gold. The majority of the seized items have been turned over to a court appointed receiver for the purpose of victim restitution.

Under the investment scam, Cook told investors that he would guarantee a return of at least 2 percent a month, with a minimum investment of $100,000. Cook told investors that their money would be placed in high-yield prime bank instruments held by foreign banks. The investigation revealed that no such investment avenues existed. The investigation also revealed that none of the money collected by Cook could be linked to a legitimate investment.

On August 23, 2000, Cook was indicted by an Arizona State grand jury on 37 counts of fraud, theft and illegally conducting an enterprise. The indictment alleges that Cook, through his company, collected some $41 million from more than 300 investors. Cook currently is incarcerated in Dallas, Tex., on a contempt-of-court charge for refusing to comply with an order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas relating to the disposition of additional assets owned by Cook.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

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