Fresno Businessman, Accused in Ponzi, Kills Self

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Investigators say 1,200 people could be out up to $138 million, victims of what they described as a Ponzi scheme.

The man the FBI says was behind the scheme, 67-year-old John W. Otto, committed suicide last week in Palm Desert. Otto ran an equipment leasing company based in Fresno.

The FBI began looking into HL Leasing after investors complained in April they had not received interest payments. In Ponzi schemes, the mastermind often uses money from new investors to pay others.

Fresno attorney Donald Fischbach says he set up a conference call for investors expecting 20, but 90 joined in and nearly 200 in total have contacted his office. They invested between $40,000 and $1.7 million.

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