Everyone knows that the Disney theme parks in California, Florida and elsewhere thrive in an atmosphere of fiction and fantasy. Unfortunately for hundreds of duped investors, Disney-themed investments can be fantasies too.
It seems a Texas man was going around telling people that he had inside information about a new Disney resort and park planned for a prime location in North Texas.
Now is your chance, he told folks, to get in on the ground floor of a sure-thing, can’t miss, get-rich-quick money-maker.
Buy or option land
He presented two ways to get involved. Take one or both. The first investment was for options to buy land near the alleged Disney property. The second was to buy such land outright.
One problem: Disney ain’t going to North Texas. The “inside information” was pure rubbish.
By the time the smoke cleared, 280 investors had lost a total of approximately $20 million. The people who actually bought land actually owned it and could recover some of their losses. The ones who bought options lost everything.
Here’s the cool part: As most liars do, this swindler told elaborate, detailed stories. At first he told people that the Disney venture was called The King Ranch Project. He changed that name awhile later to Frontier Disney DFW.
At the crook’s trial, Disney executives showed up to testify. They confirmed that the information presented to investors was phony and Disney never had plans to open a theme park in North Texas.
Get this: The swindler’s alibi was that he was given false information about Disney’s plans by a man he met at a methadone rehabilitation clinic!
Rehab patients are not known to be reliable, especially when they are going through withdrawal and are having hallucinations.
Justice was done in this case. The crook in question was convicted of wire fraud and making false statements to federal law enforcement authorities. He was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison.
And he won’t be allowed to keep the several hundred thousand dollars he made in fees and commissions on the lands deals he put together.
It just goes to show you that an apparent iron-clad investment can sometimes turn out goofy instead.