Elderly man accused of defrauding Arizonans out of millions

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PHOENIX – A Florida man is accused of defrauding companies in Arizona out of millions of dollars.

Louis Michael Pihakis, 80, faces charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Pihakis and co-conspirators allegedly came up with a scheme to get “proof of funds” fees from victim investors while promising to deliver millions of dollars from a Greek shipping trust.

The defendant reportedly told his victims to provide a refundable fee to be held in escrow until the funds from the so-called shipping trust came through. The Greek shipping trust does not exist.

Pihakis and other unnamed individuals allegedly spent up to $3.4 million on luxury items such as cars, homes and other personal expenses.

"No matter how smart you think you are, you should always carefully check on your investments and even more carefully vet your investment opportunities…always be wary of a sure thing," said United States Attorney Dennis K. Burke. "We hope this case will serve as an educational tool to the public to prevent future investment fraud.”

The business investors who lost money in the scheme were based out of Phoenix, Fargo, N.D,. and Wildwood, N.J., among other locations.