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FBI cracks down on alleged real estate Ponzi scheme in Orange County

FBI raids multiple Orange County homes connected to alleged Ponzi scheme
FBI raids multiple Orange County homes connected to alleged Ponzi scheme 01:50

Multiple homes were raided by FBI agents on Tuesday as part of a large scale investigation into an alleged real estate investment Ponzi scheme in Orange County. 

The scheme has allegedly cost dozens of people millions of dollars after they bought into what they believed was a legitimate business investment. 

"I don't want any other families to be affected by this," said Bryan Werlemann, one of the victims of the alleged scheme.

He's hopeful that the search, conducted at two homes in Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, will lead to the arrest of those behind the theft of tens of millions of dollars from local investors. 

"There was approximately, you know, upwards of a hundred million dollars involved," Werlemann said. "These are first and second trust deeds, where we started noticing bizarre things were happening and money was missing. Literally missing."

Werlemann, who works as a wealth manager, says that his personal funds took a nearly $3 million hit and that he's not alone. He says that around one hundred others, many of those Orange County locals, were duped by the investment company based in Newport Beach. 

Despite his background in finance, Werlemann says that he felt confident investing with someone he met at his child's school. 

"In this case, the money's all gone, right? There might be cents on the dollars left. But at least we're trying to protect other investors being pulled in," he said. 

FBI agents could be seen seizing a large amount of evidence from the homes on Tuesday, which included computers, paperwork and cellphones. 

"The FBI and partners are seeking evidence based on allegations of criminal activity," said a statement from FBI Spokesperson Laura Eimiller. "We're not at liberty to comment on the nature of the investigation."

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