3 charged in NYC in Guggenheim impersonation scam

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 1, 2011 03:40

NEW YORK  — New York City prosecutors have charged three people in a failed scheme to cheat investors by pretending to be members and representatives of the Guggenheim family.

A federal complaint alleges the defendants used the prominent name to promote phony investment opportunities including the sale of $1 billion in diamonds and a vodka distribution venture.

Prosecutors say a California woman tried to pass herself off as a countess and falsely said she was married to "Toy Story 3" actor John Ratzenberger. She's at large.

Two men appeared in court Monday and were released on bond. One calls the case a "mixup."

They each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy charges.

The real Guggenheims made their money in mining and smelting. They're noted for their philanthropy and contributions to aviation and art, including several museums.


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