A California fugitive who is wanted in connection with a massive Ponzi scheme investigation was arrested at the Peace Bridge by officers who said they found $70,700 in cash hidden in his cowboy boots.
Authorities said Christopher Jared Warren, 26, of Sacramento, was trying to enter the United States with a passport issued in a fraudulent name when U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers arrested him late Tuesday night.
"When they searched him, they found $70,700 concealed in his calf-high cowboy boots," Kevin Corsaro, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Buffalo, said. "It was almost entirely in $100 bills."
In Warren's suitcase, officers later found four one-ounce pieces of pure platinum, worth about $1,000 each, and approximately $1 million in Swiss Bank certificates showing ownership of pure gold, Corsaro added.
Warren is sought for questioning by the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI in connection with an alleged $100 million bank fraud and Ponzi scheme case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Campana said.
"Since at least 2006," Warren and others associated with a firm called Loomis Wealth Solutions have been running a Ponzi scheme and mortgage fraud that is believed to have cost victims at least $100 million, an IRS agent said in court papers.
After a brief court appearance Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder ordered Warren turned over to federal marshals, who will transport him to California for further proceedings.
According to court papers, Warren had been cooperating with federal agents in California who are investigating the Ponzi and fraud scheme.
After his arrest at the Peace Bridge, Warren allegedly told federal agents that, earlier this month, he flew from Las Vegas -- through Mexico and Ireland -- to Beirut, Lebanon.
Warren said he then flew from Beirut to Toronto, where he hired a taxi for $300 to drive him to Buffalo.
One day before leaving the U.S. for Beirut, Warren e-mailed a "confession statement" about his financial crimes to a reporter at the Sacramento Bee newspaper, agents said.
And agents said Warren wrote the following in an essay he put on the Internet to be viewed by his victims:
"[The scam] utterly disgusts me. Looking back at the life I have led, I beg a higher power for forgiveness. For mercy."