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Federal Grand Jury Indicts Santa Barbara Man; Prosecutors Say He Operated Ponzi Scheme

Investigators say victims lost $12 million dollars

It was a seemingly safe investment program, one involving insurance annuities paying solid interest. But, a federal grand jury issued an 11 count indictment against a Santa Barbara man over allegations he stole $12 million dollars from victims in an insurance scam.

Prosecutors say Darrell Arnold Aviss sold victims what they thought were annuities from Swiss insurance companies. But, they say he never bought the annuities, and gave his clients false statements which indicated they were making money.

Investigators say the 63-year-old man actually used the money to pay for a luxurious lifestyle which included trips around the world, more than $100,000 in spending at a Santa Barbara nightclub, and 20 tickets to a U2 concert.

Aviss is facing six counts of money laundering, and five counts of wire fraud. He’s set to be arraigned early next month.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.