Long prison term in $26 million fraud

Posted: March 29, 2014

PHILADELPHIA When times were good, Andrew Bogdanoff raked in more than $1 million a year from his commercial financing firm and spent thousands each month on luxury cars, elaborate trips abroad, and expensive jewelry.

Last month, he grossed just $13 - an income scraped from his new job as a kitchen assistant in federal prison.

On Thursday, Bogdanoff, 67, was sentenced to 18 years and four months behind bars for the crimes that brought about his abrupt financial fall - a punishment his victims hope will spur tighter regulations to stop financial crimes perpetrated against small business owners.

"Greed and arrogance took over my life," Bogdanoff told U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn. "I've lost everything I had - everything I worked my whole life to obtain."

Between 2005 and 2011, Bogdanoff's company, Remington Financial Group, bilked nearly 2,000 clients nationwide out of $26 million they had put forward hoping to land development loans for projects ranging from riverfront apartments in Camden to a $46 million resort in Bora Bora, French Polynesia.

Promising to line up financing, Bogdanoff and Remington collected up-front fees of more than $10,000.

Once the money had been paid, prosecutors said, the company had no intention of finding backers and intentionally found faults with the proposed developments to justify their failure to find funding.

In court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Axelrod described Bogdanoff's firm as just one of a growing number of financiers targeting middle-class investors in the loosely regulated market.

Unlike large corporations that can rely on federally regulated banks for funding, Remington's clients were "by and large dreamers whom Bogdanoff and his coconspirators preyed upon for their own benefit," Axelrod said.

"All you have to do is Google 'project funding' and you get a lot of companies that look a lot like Remington," he said. "Remington isn't the first to steal money like this, and it won't be the last."

But the sheer number of victims Remington targeted set Bogdanoff's scheme apart. Even after his arrest in 2012, he aligned himself with a new firm based in Australia and continued to defraud new marks under a pseudonym, prosecutors said.

In addition to his sentence Thursday, Bogdanoff was ordered to pay $26.5 million in restitution to his former clients and nearly $1 million more in back taxes - even as Yohn, the judge, acknowledged it was unlikely he would ever be able to pay.

Still, Ingrid Robinson, 65, a victim from San Anselmo, Calif., said seeing Bogdanoff brought to justice was enough.

After losing $10,000 to the company in 2007 during an attempt to secure funding for a condo and retail development, she launched a seven-year campaign to warn others and see Remington's executives prosecuted.

"All we did was believe in the American dream," she said.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649 @jeremyrroebuck

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