AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Georgia man accused of massive Ponzi scheme

A Georgia man lured elderly and unsophisticated investors into lending his companies tens of millions of dollars, then treated the companies as his personal piggy bank, says a federal lawsuit.

James A. Torchia and the various "Credit Nation" companies he operates are all involved in the fraud, the suit alleges. Among other things, it accuses him of having two companies he controls - Spaghetti Junction LLC and Willie's West LLC - transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars to him and his wife.

He used some of the money to buy his home in Canton, the suit claims. Other money was transferred to an auto dealership owned by Torchia's son, according to the suit, filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Money came from what the agency describes as a massive Ponzi scheme involving two kinds of investments. His companies have been losing massive amounts of money and have stayed afloat only by raising more money from investors, the suit alleges.

Torchia drew investors through advertisements - many aired on the Rush Limbaugh show on AM radio, according to the suit.

One pitch:

Hello, I’m Bob Guess with Credit Nation. You know, most

Americans are tired of bank returns, they’re afraid of the run-up in

Wall Street, and fed up with misleading claims of returns on

annuities and insurance companies. If you’re looking for sound

investments and security of principal where your money works as

hard as you do, give Credit Nation a call. Because of the new

JOBS Act passed by Congress there is now a level playing field for

investors. With Credit Nation you can earn a nine percent return

on your money backed by hard assets dollar for dollar. If you

prefer growth over income we have an asset-based product that's

averaged double digits historically. Don’t put all your eggs in one

basket. Call Credit Nation for a free consultation today. 

The SEC is asking U.S. district court here to issue an injunction to stop Torchia and preserve whatever assets still exist "for the benefit of the victims of Torchia's schemes."

"The commission believes that additional victims are being defrauded on a daily basis," according to the lawsuit, filed Nov. 10.

Read about one of Torchia's previous businesses here.

Torchia fought with the Georgia Department of Insurance for years after it took action against Torchia's companies selling "life settlements," or interests in life insurance policies. He lost those fights.

Florida, Alabama and Tennessee also had brought enforcement actions against his companies, including National Viatical.







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About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.