PORTLAND, Ore. – The man known as the “Hobo Prince,” who promised to pay anyone $900 per week for seven years if they paid him $25 first, was fined $1 million by the State of Oregon.
Investigators with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services said at least 7,480 people took Bell up on his promise, but instead of giving out money, Bell spent more than $187,000 on a new car, food and movie tickets.
"Mr. Bell offered false hope to thousands of people, he refused to shut down his operation after being told he was violating Oregon securities law," said David Tatman, manager of the department's Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.
The state ordered Bell to cease and desist running his operation, which it called a fraudulent investment scheme.
Bell’s website says he’s not doing anything illegal and he’s tired of people’s negative attitudes about his project.
"With so many struggling in this economy, people need to take extra care before investing any amount of money," said Tatman. "What Bell was offering was false hope to those who are most vulnerable."