URBANA, Ill. (AP) -- A retired electrician pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal fraud charges for running a $20 million international investment scam.
Federal prosecutors said Clyde D. Hood was the originator of a scheme that solicited investments, primarily in small amounts, from people around the world.
They were promised that $100 invested in Omega Trust and Trading, a bogus off-shore enterprise, would return $5,100 in nine months.
During the hearing, U.S. District Judge Michael McCuskey asked Hood to explain what he had done.
"Your honor, I don't think I've got the time," the former electrician responded.
Hood pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and filing a false tax return.
Hood and his alleged partners used the Internet, prayer groups and word-of-mouth to drum up business. Prosecutors and investors said no one but Hood and his associates was paid.
"What your mother always told you still applies: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Esteban Sanchez.
The Omega partners were caught, in part, because they began spending lavishly -- buying fancy cars, leaving big tips and opening or expanding businesses -- making fellow small-town residents suspicious.
Seven of the 19 people charged in the Omega scam have now pleaded guilty, including Hood's wife, Patricia.
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