A federal grand jury has indicted a Colleyville businessman who operated Signal Oil and Gas Co. on one count of mail fraud stemming from an alleged Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of more than $2.6 million.
The indictment of James E. VanBlaricum, 77, who remains in custody, was announced Wednesday. He was arrested in August by U.S. postal inspectors.
VanBlaricum is charged with mail fraud, and if convicted he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to federal agents.
The Colleyville businessman created Signal Oil and Gas (SOG) Co. in 2000, and initially had an office on Airport Freeway in Fort Worth. In 2004, the company also began receiving mail at Northwest Highway in Grapevine, according to federal court documents.
Federal agents began an investigation after they were contacted by officials with the Texas State Securities Board. The state organization had received complaints about VanBlaricum related to various programs he promoted and misrepresentations made to them by SOG salespeople. One of the main complaints was lack of investment payments, federal agents said.
In the federal investigation, authorities determined that 53 investors were victims of mail fraud and were bilked out of $2,633,090.
Many of the victims in VanBlaricum’s programs invested at the recommendation of several financial consultants, according to court documents.
Federal agents said that more than half of the money went to employee payroll and day trading, but VanBlaricum also spent the money on vacations, international travel, escort and dating services, rent payments and automobile purchases.
This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.