Pinellas business owner arrested for $1.5 million Ponzi scheme, deputies say

Crime

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 42-year-old Madeira Beach man Sunday for allegedly operating a Ponzi scheme resulting in a total loss of $1.5 million for his victims.

The sheriff’s office’s investigation began in February 2019 after deputies received a grand theft complaint. The victim told deputies he sent Matthew Taylor $450,000 toward the purchase and repair of an 86 foot Azimut yacht.

By the end of 2018, it became apparent to the victim the transaction was fraudulent and he never received a refund.

Detectives said they received three additional criminal complaints from various victims.

Detectives concluded that Taylor operated his business, Savage Yachts, LLC, as a Ponzi scheme, as he would take money from investors and promise a high return. He would then reportedly take money from boat buyers or other investors and pay back the initial investors. Eventually, deputies said Taylor ran out of new deposits or investors and was unable to pay back initial investors or deliver boats to customers.

Pinellas County’s Economic Crimes detectives say the total loss for the four victims is over $1.5 million.

Taylor was arrested Sunday morning and charged with scheme to defraud, four counts of grand theft, four counts of money laundering, and one count of Escrow depository violation.

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