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Investors Said Taken for $115M

September 11, 1999

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Thousands of investors entrusted their money _ one man handed over $3 million _ to companies that promised it would be used for lucrative life insurance policies for the terminally ill.

Instead, a federal indictment unsealed Friday alleges the duped investors turned over more than $115 million that was then used to support lavish lifestyles, including resort homes, luxury cars and helicopters.

As many as 6,000 people, many elderly, could be victims of what federal agents called one of the largest fraud schemes in recent memory, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Cohen.

A meager $6 million of the $115 million was used to buy legitimate policies, according to the indictment.

Frederick Brandau, 54, of Davie; an in-house attorney; a nurse and two of Brandau’s companies _ Financial Federated Title & Trust Inc. and Asset Security Corp. _ were charged with 44 counts of wire and mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

The indictment, returned Aug. 13, was unsealed Friday, hours after federal agents arrested Brandau at Miami International Airport. FBI officials said Brandau was denied entry into Bogota, Colombia.

``For two years, the defendants preyed upon investors who were naive, unsophisticated and in many instances senior citizens who’d invested their life savings,″ said FBI senior supervisory agent Alan Sadowski.

Brandau’s lawyer, Thomas Sclafani, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Friday, but previously has said his client was not running a scam.