Idaho Investigates Alleged Hedge Fund Fraud

Jan 20 2009 | 2:04am ET

These days, it seems like Ponzi schemes are popping up everywhere.

The latest is in Idaho, where securities regulators said last week they are looking into claims that one Daren Palmer ripped investors off to the tune of $100 million. According to several of his alleged victims, Palmer raised money for his Trigon Group, based in Idaho Falls, which according to at least two investors Palmer marketed as a hedge fund.

According to a lawsuit against Palmer filed earlier this money, Mark and Penny Peterson said they agreed to let Palmer invest $500,000 that he owed them for a plot of land they say they sold him, but that he neither paid them nor returned the property when they sought to redeem their investment.

Investors apparently became suspicious in July, when Palmer allegedly asked some for more time to pay their quarterly dividends. At an October meeting, Palmer allegedly told several investors that “he was getting lots of margin calls and couldn’t get out,” Kevin Taggart, who says he is owed $600,000, recalled.

Marilyn Chastain, the securities bureau chief for Idaho’s Dept. of Finance, said after a meeting with some 30 investors that the bureau believes “there is a pretty significant amount of money involved—tens of millions, maybe.” But Taggart told The Wall Street Journal that, after consulting with some other Palmer investors, “as near as we can tell, we lost $100 million.”

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