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German investors caught in alleged Ponzi scheme

Artwork by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky is loaded onto a truck during a seizure in Boulder City, Nev., about 20 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The seizure is apparently related to the arrest of German fugitive Ulrich Felix Anton Engler, 51, who is accused of bilking investors in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

STEVE MARCUS/REUTERS

Prosecutors in Mannheim, Germany said they have evidence that 1,295 investors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland lost at least $37-million (U.S.) in a pyramid scheme allegedly run by a German man arrested in Las Vegas last week.

"The actual damages are expected to be higher," the Mannheim prosecutor's office said in a statement on Monday.

Ulrich Felix Anton Engler, 51, was arrested in Las Vegas on Wednesday for violating U.S. immigration law.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs said last week that Mr. Engler was in the custody of its officials and would be deported and turned over to German law enforcement authorities, adding he was wanted by them on multiple criminal charges after allegedly defrauding investors.

Investigators from the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg are standing by to aid with a transfer of Mr. Engler, the Mannheim prosecutor's office said on Monday.

The prosecutor said Mr. Engler is accused of using a Florida-based marketing company to lure investors between the end of 2004 and mid-2007, under the pretence of investing the cash on the New York Stock Exchange.

But he is actually said to have been running a Ponzi scheme, the prosecutor said.

Last year, authorities began to re-examine his case and determined he was running a similar scheme in Nevada under a new name.

An international arrest warrant was issued for him in 2007, but his whereabouts remained unknown until his arrest last week.

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