Feds: Canadian who bilked $70M from clients globally warned of such schemes, hid criminal past

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — U.S. prosecutors say a Canadian national and one-time bank robber swindled $70 million from investors on six continents while warning clients to avoid such scams.

A criminal complaint filed in Illinois says 53-year-old Nicholas Smirnow told clients of his online "Pathway to Prosperity" to stay away from high-yield investment programs.

Yet investigators say he promised return rates from 546 percent to 17,000 percent with no explanation of his methodology or identity.

The complaint obtained Monday by The Associated Press also says Smirnow's criminal history includes convictions for burglary and drug trafficking in Canada.

Prosecutors believe he lives in the Philippines though his whereabouts are unclear. He's charged with conspiracy and fraud.