Southern California man pleads guilty to conspiracy in $7 million investment fraud

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SAN DIEGO — A Southern California man has pleaded guilty to helping bilk investors out of nearly $7 million through a Ponzi scheme.

Federal prosecutors say William Ison entered the plea to a conspiracy charge Wednesday in San Diego federal court and faces up to five years in prison.

Authorities say Ison acknowledged helping Douglas Ellingson solicit investors for various businesses. In seminars around the country, Ison claimed the money would be safe because it was backed by Ison's multibillion-dollar mining company in Newport Beach. He also claimed to have raised billions for charity.

Authorities say in fact, the company hadn't done any mining and some investors were paid with money received from other investors — a classic Ponzi scheme.

Ellingson and two other men previously pleaded guilty.

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