Scott County man accused of fraudulently selling securities, gambling away investments
Investigators say he squandered much of the money away in Texas and Las Vegas, living as a "high roller" in establishments such as Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Investigators say a Scott County, Indiana, man is facing several felony charges after he allegedly tricked some of his former friends and classmates into a scheme where he fraudulently claimed to sell them stock futures, before gambling most of their investments away in Las Vegas casinos.
Court documents indicate tens of thousands of dollars were lost.
According to the Scott County Detention Center's web site, 35-year-old Travis Roll was booked in jail Saturday afternoon.
The alleged scheme began in Aug. 2012, when Roll ran into an old high school friend he roomed with while in college. That man told investigators that, "even in high school and college, Roll was always investing online and appeared to be doing well."
According to a probable cause affidavit, that man "sought investment advice from Roll, and was successful on several occasions when following Roll's suggestions." Roll even went as far as to help him set up his own E*Trade account.
In Aug. 2012, when Roll and his former college roommate met at a friend's home in Scottsburg, Roll allegedly told him he was trading in corn and soybean futures and explained how futures worked. Police say he convinced his former roommate to invest $10,000 with him and enter into a contract that promised he would earn 15 percent on the investment in 90 days.
Court documents show the victim would go on to trust Roll with more than $150,000 worth of investments over the next four years.
Roll's former college roommate became a point-of-contact between Roll and several other investors, court documents show. Some of those investors gave Roll tens of thousands of dollars.
But investigators say Roll wasn't investing all of the funds. In fact, according to the probable cause affidavit, Roll had never been registered to sell securities.
What he was doing, according to court documents, was gambling the money away.
"Money given to Roll by investors was used for personal expenses including, but not limited to, traveling, dining out and gambling," the probable cause affidavit states. "An examination of Roll's E*Trade account showed that only $10,000 had been invested into the account from investor's funds. Investor funds were used to support Roll's lifestyle as a high roller in Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada. Bank records indicate frequent visits to casinos such as Harrah's Rincon, Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood."
Police say this began to become apparent in early 2016, when Roll's former college roommate told him he needed some of his money back on his investment, and Roll told him he didn't have the money to cover the check, but promised to get it from his dad and bring it over. A few days later, investigators say Roll did drop off a check for $98.546 in his father's name.
But later that year, when Roll's former college roommate asked for all of his investment money back, Roll did nothing but offer "delays and excuses," according to court documents. It wasn't until early 2017 when Roll told him that all the money was gone -- including the money belonging to people he had introduced to Roll.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Roll still owes his victims more than $93,000.
"I think, at first, it was a little hard to take. I ... didn’t think it would happen, since I have known him for so long, but then after I started hearing things, it started to seem like it may be possible," said John English, Roll's longtime friend.
English said he wrote Roll a check for $5,000 and later needed some of the money back but never got it.
"There is a sense of betrayal there," English said.
On Thursday, Jan. 25, authorities filed several charges against Roll, including engaging in the fraudulent or deceitful act in the offer, sale or purchase of securities, the offer or sale of an unregistered security, several counts of the unlawful sale of a security, acting as an unregistered broker dealer and theft.
When confronted about his lavish lifestyle, Roll allegedly told investigators that he'd been gambling in order to win some of his investors' money back.
He was arrested on Saturday and is currently being held in the Scott County Detention Center.
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