"Hobo Prince Economic Project" founder fined $1 million by Oregon regulators

Back in April, we issued a cease and desist order against Shelby H. Bell, a man who runs the "Hobo Prince Economic Project."

The Clark County, Wash. man was promising people seven years' worth of weekly $900 payouts in exchange for a $25 signup fee. He maintained that each person’s contract would be financed through a complex series of transactions, including issuance of a $500,000 “reverse” insurance policy purchased with a $25,000 payment from an unnamed bank.

Since he wasn't licensed to transact insurance at all in Washington, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler ordered Bell to stop trying to sign people up for this highly dubious offer. (We subsequently received numerous calls from people across the country who'd signed up for the plan and blamed us for dashing their hopes of a big payout.)

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services fined Bell $1 million, saying that none of Bell's investors have apparently made any money.

"Bell in less than a year attracted more than $187,000 from at least 7,480 people in multiple states and U.S. territories," the department said in a press release, accusing Bell of "offering false hope to thousands of people."

"Bell claimed to be worth billions with backing from the U.S. Treasury through an International Bill of Exchange, which actually has no value," Oregon regulators continued. "Also, investigators determined that Bell used investors’ money to pay for food, movie tickets, a vehicle, and other personal expenses."

Here's a link to Oregon's order.

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