Orange County fraudster pleads guilty in house-flipping Ponzi scheme

Brett Barber ran two companies that bilked $17M out of investors

OC Fraudster Pleads Guilty in House-Flipping Ponzi Scheme
BNZ Capital One's Brett Barber (Alignable, Getty)

Brett Barber, former co-owner of Orange County companies BNZ Capital One and National American Capital, pleaded guilty Oct. 30 to two counts of wire fraud for bilking investors out of around $17 million in bogus house-flipping deals, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Barber also pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt for disobeying a court order to report to jail. Rather, he fled to Santa Cruz County where he was arrested in March. He was later transferred to federal custody in Los Angeles.

According to his plea agreement, he worked two separate schemes to swindle investors out of money and property. 

In a Ponzi scheme, Barber and his associates told investors that money would be used to fund real estate projects. BNZ Capital fraudulently told investors that the firm flipped real estate and guaranteed a return between 8 and 10 percent, as well as potential bonuses. 

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 Since there were no projects, the only way to repay earlier investors was to use the cash of later investors. Barber and his cohorts did repay some investors, according to the DOJ.

When Federal officials started investigating BNZ Capital, Barber closed up shop and ran the same fraud at a new company called National American Capital. 

Barber was caught in October 2021 when meeting with an undercover cop posing as an investor. Barber told several lies during the meeting, such as that NAC had been in business for 20 years, it owned 10 parcels of land in Laguna Beach and had developed a four-plex in Newport Beach.

At a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 4, Barber will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the criminal contempt count.

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