GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - State
And despite promises of quick returns, he's been able to holdoff impatient participants for years with more promises andsometimes labored explanations of why the money hasn't arrived.
Bob Trent said he gave Ripley $15,000. "I would get fifteentimes the amount I loaned him," said Trent of Ripley's promise, "in10 days and no longer than 30 days." But that was three years ago.Did he get any money back? "Not a cent, not a penny and I don'tknow of anyone who has," Trent told Target 8 Investigators.
"It's like, how duped can you be," Elaine Kacos askedrhetorically. She said she loaned Ripley $28,000. It had seriousconsequences. "It kind of wrecked things for awhile. They got me todo something any person shouldn't do. I mortgaged my home. And Ilost it."
POTS O' CASH
It's difficult to understand exactly what Ripley has done withtheir money.
Target 8 Investigators have obtained more than two dozen reports participants sayRipley sent them, supposedly updates on the progress of theprojects. In those reports, Ripley seems to be saying that he hasaccess to accounts in foreign banks worth millions of dollars andthat he is raising money from participants to pay taxes and makeother arrangements to get his hands on the cash. It's moneyseemingly there for the taking.
"That's exactly what they told us it was, pots of money andall we had to do was pay the taxes on those pots of money," Kacossaid.
THE LOOOONG AND WINDING ROAD
Moving the money is akin to moving mountains in Ripley'sworld. According to his project updates it requires numerousmeetings of people whose schedules are nearly impossible tocoordinate.
In nearly every memo it seems success is at hand. But then anunexpected illness or another unanticipated tax holds things up. "Our days are starting at 3 a.m. and sometimes go untilmidnight with meetings and overseas calls," he wrote in January 2007 . "It is imperative that we keep all phone lines open to focusour full time and attention to working through all the detailsnecessary to achieve our goals of returning funds and returns toeveryone who has assisted."
Even the simple act of wiring money, done possibly bymillions of people every day, is a labor laden with risk andanxiety. In an
"It's just a big joke," said participant Bob Trent of theupdates and other explanations he said he's heard from Ripley. "Thestories he comes up with. 'Homeland Security stopped the peoplewith the money and extorted it from them...two or three of themflew to England and forgot their passports and they had to comeback."'
Ripley repeatedly refers in the updates to CNN financial reporter Richard Quest . He saidQuest is helping score what Ripley calls "the crown jewel" project,millions in Lloyds Bank in London. He has even passed along emailshe said are from Quest, according to participants.
Ripley refers to the Lloyds Bank project as the "RQ Project." Ina February 2008 update, Ripley writes, "We also noted in the lastupdate that we, and RQ, are at the mercy of RQ's scheduling isueswith CNN, where he is still a key correspondent and anchor withthat network. It is our understanding that he was sent out againthis past week on assignment by CNN, and, in talking with his wife,we expect that he will be returning to the UK soon. Unfortunately,while he is gone, he is inaccesible to discuss these matters withus...."
Target 8 Investigators checked with CNN. A spokesman therechecked with Richard Quest who said that CNN's Richard Quest has never heard of Jeff Ripley or hisprojects. And in reference to the Ripley comment abouttalking to Quest's wife, the CNN spokesman told Target 8Investigators Quest is not married.
Target 8 Investigators caught up with Jeff Ripley in a gasstation parking lot near his Sparta area home. We had a lot ofquestions.
"Hey, I'm in a hurry right now to get to an appointment," hetold us. "You set up a time with me, I'll be happy to come seeyou," he said before he sped off. We did later get hold of him onthe phone. He finally told us that for privacy reasons he couldn'ttalk to us unless we got permission from every participant in hisprojects. We pointed out we didn't know who all of them are andthat would make it impossible. "That's right," he replied. He toldus to call his lawyer. The man he said was his lawyer did notreturn our call.
Some participants in Ripley's projects say they are poised toturn him in to the same state regulators who nailed him before forselling unregistered securities. They might even talk to the FBI.Target 8 Investigators will continue to track Jeff Ripley and hisamazing explanations.
Target 8 investigators also heard from the Attorney General's office, who saw this story.They are now interested in taking a look at Ripley and hisfinancial scheme.
Wind chills will be in -10 to +10, and snowfall totals in the 1- to 3-inch range.
A memorial marker was unveiled for three young siblings who died in an apartment fire 10 months ago.
Kent County leaders told 24 Hour News 8 they weren't surprised by Gary Rolls Jr.'s resignation from the Kent County Commission Thursday, but those that would comment were happy with the decision.