Best Scandal - 2011
The Trevor Cook Affair
Trevor Cook was a trusted financial advisor with a down-home, bro-ish cadence who lulled 900 investors into forking over their life savings at info sessions held in his opulent $2.8-million mansion. His fund guaranteed yields during one of history's greatest recessions. Instead, it yielded a private submarine, an exotic dancer/assistant, a voracious gambling habit, and a mansion full of Fabergé eggs for Cook as he lived high on the hog, paying old investors back with the take from new investors. But the scheme wasn't nearly as juicy as the takedown. The FBI enlisted an undercover informant, strapped him with recording devices, and sent him into the mansion, where the whistleblower resisted the urge to tell the poor drywall hangers and retirees to get the hell out of there. After Cook was finally busted, $190 million had flowed into his Ponzi scheme, and only a fraction has been recovered. Authorities have found dribs and drabs of it all over the place, including gold coins stashed in the walls of his brother's house. His former security guard has just been indicted for hiding $150,000 worth of Turkish lira, Iraqi dinars, and other foreign currency in a locker at the Mall of America. This past year marked the end of the road for Cook—he's now serving his 25-year sentence at a federal facility in Illinois.