When the Pyramid Scheme Comes Tumbling Down

April 2010

In a Ponzi scheme, brokers use incoming investment money to pay "dividends" to earlier contributors. Eventually someone finds out that profits aren't really being made, and the system collapses. That's allegedly what Sean Michael Mueller, 41, did through his companies, Mueller Capital Management LLC and Mueller Over Under Fund LP, until a Denver District Court judge finally issued a temporary restraining order to freeze Mueller's assets after investigators looked into a complaint from an unidentified investor. As the investigation narrowed, the Greenwood Village hedge-fund manager told clients in an e-mail he had "no good options left" and was subsequently hospitalized for a suicide threat, according to The Denver Post. "I don't know where to begin, so I will start with, I'm sorry," Mueller wrote, say court documents. "The stress of life has overwhelmed everything else. Please realize that I didn't set out to end this way; I always thought I could pull it out in the end, but events sped up to end that dream." The Over Under Fund, filed in 2002, was attempting to raise $100 million with minimum individual investments of $500,000, making the suspected scheme perhaps one of the largest in state history. The list of victims may include well-known professional athletes, doctors, and dentists. State Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph alleges Mueller was running a "Ponzi scheme," according to 9News, following his month-long investigation. The clincher came when Mueller wrote his e-mail threatening to jump off a building. Joseph was tipped off because "just based on the wording of the letters, he has in fact lost the money and there is no hope."