James Ray Mast of Portland was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court to 51 months imprisonment, following his guilty pleas in April to single counts of mail fraud and money laundering.

Mast, 43, was found guilty of bilking investors, including a Lake Oswego couple, out of $4 million by soliciting investments for three businesses, allegedly for the purpose of day trading.

'It can be devastating when the financial well-being of an individual falls into the wrong hands through trickery and deceit,' said Kenneth J. Hines, the Internal Revenue Service special agent in charge for the Pacific Northwest.

Mast's 51-month sentence will be followed by 36 months of supervised release. Mast was also ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution to the victims.

The charges stemmed from Mast's role in promoting a fraudulent investment through an entity he created for the purpose of stealing people's money.

According to the indictment, beginning in 2001 and continuing through 2005, Mast solicited investments for Enhanced Financial Services, Inc., GlobalTech Trading Group, Inc., and GlobalTech Partners, Limited Partnership, for the purpose of day trading in financial markets.

Mast either owned or controlled each of these three entities which operated out of Hillsboro.

The scheme involved Mast falsely representing to investors, many of whom he had met through youth basketball programs in Oregon, that he had been successfully day trading for a significant period of time.

Mast's trading activity consistently resulted in financial losses. He told investors he never had a losing quarter and that they would receive double-digit returns if they invested with his companies.

Mast mailed quarterly statements to investors that falsely depicted his trading scheme was generating large profits.

In total, Mast collected more than $4 million from investors, a portion of which he laundered through a casino in Las Vegas. Bank and financial records subsequently showed that very little of the money was ever invested in day trading or any other legitimate investment activity.

Instead, Mast diverted and misappropriated investor funds for his own personal and unauthorized use. Records revealed he used investors' money for high-stakes gambling in Las Vegas, exotic dancers, as well as to purchase new automobiles, a boat, home furnishings and personal gifts.

Some of the sources of the stolen money included retirement savings and college funds, with some victims now being forced to repay substantial loans.

The Lake Oswego Review is withholding the names of the local victims of the scheme.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the IRS and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Allan M. Garten and Craig Gabriel.

'Thanks to the fine efforts of law enforcement agencies such as the U. S. Postal Inspection Service and ours, the days are numbered for those who would peddle false hopes and dreams, and prey on investors for their own personal financial benefit,' said Hines.

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