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A man prosecutors say bilked 15,000 investors from more than five dozen nations out of about $58 million pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges related to the fraud scheme. Investigators called the Tri-West Investment Club one of the nation’s largest Internet investment scams. Keith Nordick, 42, of Mexico and Canada, pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, charges that carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing was set for Feb. 4. The investigation stretched from the United States to Canada and Costa Rica and resulted in charges against six people. Several of the defendants were arrested in Costa Rica and extradited to the United States to face charges. Alyn Richard Waage, whom prosecutors called Tri-West’s “kingpin,” and Michael Webb, the Internet web designer, are awaiting sentencing after guilty pleas. Waage’s son, Cary, pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities, bringing him a reduced sentence of more than four years in prison in July. The men admitted running a Ponzi scheme from 1999 to September 2001 that used a Web site to solicit investments promising 120 percent annualized returns in a “bank debenture trading program.” They used investors’ money to make some payments to early investors and to buy millions of dollars of property in Costa Rica, Mexico and Latvia, as well as a yacht, helicopter and several cars, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Alyn Waage’s sister and another man have also been charged in the case and are fugitives, prosecutors said. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed.

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