Paul Tucker lured in investors with the promise of building a rehab center in the Bahamas with a “24-hour miracle cure” for drug addiction, but investigators said the center never happened. Now he’s been arrested on felony charges of grand theft, money laundering and selling unregistered securities.
Tucker promoted the use of ibogaine, which is illegal in the United States,for severe drug addiction and put together a website and pitch for a 20-bed rehabilitation center in Nassau, Bahamas.
The website includes quotes from former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Greg Douglass of the Steve Miller Band, offering support for the drug, which is extracted from an African shrub
Tucker, 43, asked investors to put up at least $25,000 with the promise of shares in the development and that they’d make anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 a month. Tucker received about $350,000 from 13 investors, according to the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.
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“Imagine the demand if there were a rehab facility that delivered a 90% success rate! And did it in 24 hours at a total cost of less than $10,000. No don’t imagine it, just read on, because it’s true,” the website reads. “Addiction recovery is a highly profitable recession-proof business, with an endless demand for help and a limited supply of Ibogaine clinics.”
Investigators with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation say that the center, Ibogaine Partners, never happened and Tucker ultimately spent about $256,000 of the money he collected on cash withdrawals, personal credit card payments, rent on a penthouse and other expenses.
The state agency was responding to a complaint, filed in July 2015, from an investor who said he never heard from Tucker after making a “substantial investment” with the company.
Tucker did spend about $68,000 on expenses that appeared to be related to the center, including about $35,000 on advertising and promotion of his website.
“Investors in the suspect’s Ibogaine Partners were told that their funds were being used to purchase a share in a clinic to treat recovering alcoholics and heroin addicts,” wrote an investigator in the arrest warrant. “They were not told that the funds would be used for the suspect’s personal expense.”
Tucker was booked into Miami-Dade jail Monday morning and faces a bevy of charges including organized fraud, selling security investment for $50,000 to more than five victims, money laundering of more than $100,000, two counts of third-degree grand theft, five counts of second-degree grand theft, seven counts of sales of unregistered securities and another seven counts of sale of securities by an unregistered dealer.
He bonded out Tuesday. His arraignment is set for Friday morning in Miami-Dade circuit court.
Investors reached out to the financial regulation office’s investigators and said they mostly found out about Ibogaine Partners through online searches or advertisements. They all said that after they gave Tucker money, they never heard from Tucker again or received a return on their investment.
Tucker, who lives in Aventura, doesn’t have any previous criminal charges on his record. State records list him as the president of a company called Chabad Prayer Service with the mailing address listed as a condo in Sunny Isles Beach.