By Brian Maass
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A Boulder County woman who estimates she lost more than $100,000 in a massive Ponzi scheme told CBS4 the man who deceived her and took her money “seems like Colorado’s version of Bernie Madoff or something.”
Sally Blaser, 75, was talking about Dan Rudden, a Greenwood Village businessman, who confessed this past summer to engineering a vast Ponzi scheme. At one point he estimated he stole $55 million from investors. Rudden now believes the actual figure is lower.
But for investors like Blaser, the monetary damage will be long lasting. She says she has had to stop contributing to her grandchildren’s college funds as she assesses the damage.
“I definitely won’t be able to help as much because that’s what I did with the extra money, was put it into their accounts. I think I’m out my principal which is $102,000.”
Blaser recalls meeting Rudden about 13 years ago when he was running a legitimate business, Financial Visions. Based on recommendations from friends and due diligence, the retired Spanish teacher invested her money with Rudden and for years recouped 12 percent returns.
But Rudden has confessed that after 2010, his company was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme and he duped new investors into providing him money which he then used to pay dividends to older investors. When the scheme collapsed this summer, Rudden estimated he had about 150 investors.
“The damage is more than I ever dreamed I could do to people,” Rudden told CBS4.
He has been charged with one count of federal wire fraud but investors expect more criminal charges in the future. Rudden has been cooperating with state and federal law enforcement authorities who have been working to unravel his Ponzi scheme.
CBS4 has spoken to dozens of Ruddens investors, some who say they lost their life savings in the Ponzi scheme. Other investors say they can absorb the losses but are bitter about the years long deception.
“The drop in income because Financial Visions evaporated, that makes a big difference because I have a lot less to work with,” Blaser said.
Sitting in her living room, Blaser said she is still able to pay her bills, but marveled at what Rudden had done.
“What deception, what deception,” she repeated. “Someone who was trusted and had a lot of people investing, a lot of people who were his good friends putting money in his ventures and he deceived them.”