Man loses $250K in alleged Ponzi scheme

March 31, 2010 9:19:19 AM PDT
A local man says he's out hundreds of thousands of dollars after doing a business deal with two men he once trusted. We have exclusive details of a lawsuit filed by the alleged victim. In it, he describes the men as Houston's version of Bernard Madoff.

The lawsuit was filed in civil district court last week. The man who's suing used his life savings hoping to make more money. Instead he says he lost it all.

"I put my money into something I thought was substantial and legitimate and turns out it was not," said Frank Sissingh.

When Sissingh signed a joint venture agreement more than three years ago, he thought he did everything right.

"It's not like I did nothing. I secured it with a contract. I referenced it through other people. I asked for documentation," Sissingh said.

But almost two years later, he says he started to see cracks and immediately he knew, as he said, "Something's up. Something's wrong."

Now a quarter of a million dollars, his life savings, is gone and he's suing.

"They'll get theirs," said Sissingh. "If there was foul play, I want justice to be done."

According to the civil lawsuit filed last week, Sissingh gave Yung Wallace and his company, YKVL Investments, a total of $250,000 over 14 months with the promise of big returns. Up to $200,000 would earn 3 percent, the rest 5 percent. The money was to be deposited directly into Sissingh's account each month. And according to an addendum to the contract, Winsome Investment Trust with attorney Robert Andres as the trustee, was investing it.

Sissingh says for 22 months he got his payments, but then they stopped.

"I was taken, yes," he said.

The lawsuit names Wallace, his company, the trust and Andres as defendants alleging fraud, conspiracy and negligence. Sissingh's attorney says what happened is simple.

"It's a standard run-of-the-mill Ponzi scheme, every day of the week," said Jason Gibson.

Wallace wasn't home when we knocked on the door of his house near Rice University. He didn't respond to an email or call either. We tried to go to Robert Andres' office, the one he lists with the State Bar of Texas, but 5644 Westheimer is just a postal center and #452 is just a P.O. Box.

So we called. When we called Andres and asked him if he is the manager of Winsome Trust, he said yes he is the manager of Winsome Trust, but wasn't familiar with Frank Sissingh or Yung Wallace. At least six times he said he didn't know anything about what I was asking and said, "There is no scam and I have no idea of any lawsuit filed." He then abruptly hung up.

"I'd been in touch with the SEC, went to them," Sissingh said.

He says he's contacted a number of state and federal agencies including the FBI, and while he hopes the lawsuit with help him recoup his money, he won't invest it again.

"I'm done. It's going to stay in the bank and that's it from now on," said Sissingh.

In 2007, the State of California sent Robert Andres and Winsome Trust Investment a desist and refrain order saying they were not authorized to sell securities in that state. No one has filed a response to the lawsuit filed last week. Sissingh's attorney says he plans to add more plaintiffs to it.

You can read a copy of the lawsuit here.


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