WESH in Orlando reports that unnamed NASCAR drivers and officials are among the victims of a $5.5 million Ponzi scheme. Officials said the roots of the crime were uncovered in Volusia County, which is where Daytona Beach and NASCAR headquarters are located. In Ponzi or pyramid schemes, money from new investors is used to pay old investors until the scheme collapses on itself. Authorities said Henri Zogaib, a Grand Am driver, and Paul Bellanca, who operates diversified equity investments, are behind the scheme.

According to WESH:

Zogaib and Bellanca are connected through two investment companies they own, authorities said. Officials said the suspects promised a 48 percent return, claiming victims’ money was being invested in iron and ore through a couple of different investment groups. Beside NASCAR, victims include people from Grand Am racing, a retired law enforcement officer and civilians.

Said Wayne Ivey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, "Victims started coming forward saying that they invested money in this investment group and when they started asking for their return, there was a guaranteed return of 40.8 percent, when they started asking for that return is when the house of cards so to speak started crumbling,"

My take: This is a crime. I hope they bring the criminals to justice. But anyone who expects an easy 40 percent return on investment in today’s economy – or any economy – is a fool who is easily parted from his money.

Ponzi scheme victims include NASCAR drivers (WESH)