In lawsuit, California woman says Valpo businessman swindled her out of life savings
By Teresa Auch SChultz email@example.com August 27, 2013 4:11PM
Updated: September 29, 2013 6:44AM
A California woman says in a federal lawsuit that a Valparaiso businessman swindled her out of her life savings of more than $787,000 that she invested with him, and then covered his tracks for years by filing fake reports.
According to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Hammond, Michele Santangelo, of San Marcos, Calif., met William D. Cantrell Jr. in June 2010 through a friend, and Cantrell soon asked her to invest money with his Dragon Fund.
Santangelo first resisted investing in the hedge fund but eventually invested $316,074 with the fund in December 2010, followed by another $431,304 the next month.
The suit claims Cantrell sent her quarterly reports showing her earning up to 16 percent on the invested money.
Believing herself to have made more than $245,000 in profit, the lawsuit says, Santangelo decided to buy her mother a house for $120,000 in March. When she asked Cantrell for the money from her investment, he told her it couldn’t happen until the end of the quarter in June and he would send it to her then.
She bought the house after taking money from her mother’s savings and borrowing from a relative, but when the time came for the investment check, Cantrell kept putting her off with excuses. He even mailed her a box with an item that looked like it was for someone else, claiming he got the boxes mixed up between clients. Santangelo finally confronted him last month, the lawsuit claims, and Cantrell confessed he lost her money in January 2011, the same month she invested the second portion.
Cantrell told her he had tried to recoup the money and that he had sent her fake quarterly reports to hide the loss.
He also claimed he was trying to take out a home equity loan to at least repay the $60,000 she had to take from her mother’s savings account.
Santangelo discovered after his confession that some of the money she invested with the fund had been transferred to another, unknown bank account, and the lawsuit says Cantrell spent it on himself and “a lavish lifestyle.”
Santangelo is asking for unspecified damages.