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‘Ponzi scheme’ victims worried they won’t get money back

Victims of an alleged Ponzi scheme are worried they won’t get all their money back after payouts were finalized.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Victims of an alleged Ponzi scheme that snared more than a thousand people, including more than a hundred in Arizona, said they’re worried they might not get all their money back now that authorities have started releasing the payout schedule for investors.

Carolynn Schoch said she invested $110,000 in EquiAlt, a real estate investment company. EquiAlt mostly invested in real estate in Florida, promising modest returns to its investors. 

RELATED: ‘Ponzi scheme’ victims in Arizona still waiting for justice after 3 years

But federal officials say EquiAlt was a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme is when a company pays investors with the money they get from new investors. Eventually, the scheme collapses with more people paying in than getting money out. 

“I got a letter saying it was a scam,” Schoch said. 

“I had retired, and when I left work, I had lung cancer, and I had to have surgery,” Schoch said. “So I was investing this to grow so I had something for the future.”

Instead, three years after the company was shut down, Schoch and the rest of the 1,500+ investors have yet to see any of their money return.

The company went to a court-appointed receiver, who started selling off assets – homes, luxury cars and watches the Securities and Exchange Commission said the owners of EquiAlt bought for themselves with investor money. 

Two weeks ago, the receiver posted an update that the pay schedule for reimbursing the investors had been finalized. 

Some would be getting their money back; others would get nothing. 

Schoch believes she knows which of the anonymized investors represents her. She expects only to get back about $70,000 of her original $110,000.

Schoch said she’s thinking about contesting that amount but is scared to end up with even less.

“My kids are telling me, mom take what you can get,” she said. 

There’s no timeline on when money may be paid out to investors. There’s a period when investors can challenge their repayment amounts. 

So far, no one has been charged with any crimes as part of the EquiAlt case, though some investors have been sent letters from the FBI asking about their involvement. 

12News contacted the receivership, but did not hear back. 

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