Howard Judah and Greg Jablonski: If They Are Scam Artists, They're Pretty Bad Ones

Categories: Cover Story

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Say your insurance agent or financial adviser asks you to invest $25,000 on a sure thing with a "guaranteed" rate of return, with a company you never heard of. Do you cut a check right then and there, without asking a single question? Well, that appears to be what nearly 300 folks in Texas and Wyoming did about four years ago: Their money -- in some cases their entire pensions -- went to a Houston-based company called National Life Settlements, which allegedly secured interest in third-party insurance policies.

When Texas State Securities Board investigators started sniffing around, they learned that National Life Settlements was co-founded and run by an elderly three-time federal felon in Houston and a failed businessman in Colorado. Believing the men were hawking securities without proper registration, the Board had the company seized in 2009 and its assets frozen. A court-appointed receiver testified that little of the money was actually being invested as advertised, and the bulk of the $20-plus million was being used as a piggy bank for the co-founders.

Now, the business partners are charged in Harris County District Court with misleading investors. But as this week's feature "Betting Their Lives" shows, if Howard Judah and Greg Jablonski are indeed scam artists, they're really bad ones.

They didn't move their money offshore or try to hide it in a series of elaborate corporate shells. Jablonski made damning admissions in a deposition. And Howard Judah's deposition wasn't much better -- at one point, stumbling for the word "computer," he refers to a "big square thing." Yet these men, with no legitimate backgrounds in investment, were able to get millions in a very short period of time.

Budding swindlers could use this case as a template. With a few tweaks, it's entirely possible Judah and Jablonski could have continued for years without attracting attention from the authorities. If these guys could almost do it, anyone can.


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5 comments
mustang parts
mustang parts

Once there, Iacocca's sales savvy soon helped him lap everyone else on theexecutive fast track. In 1960, Ford chairman Henry Ford II promoted him to VicePresident and General Manager of the Ford Division.

Voytech302
Voytech302

I remember Jablonski when he ran a family hardware store in Lombard, IL. Always seemed a little shifty hanging about the store preying on seniors in need of plumbing supplies with another bulked-up, bandana-wearing Polish guy, sometimes called Vic. One day, after asking their assistance to find a rare metric socket set, I was led to a back room and shown a bevy of hard-to-find Mustang parts, displayed on a giant gym mat that could have once broken the fall of high-school pole vaulters...then and there, I got a case of bad vibes and hastily left through the back door. Strange that he turned up here in Houston. Hope they find his burly bearded accomplice called Vic, or Roasty, if I recall correctly.

LBridwtr
LBridwtr

The two guys you describe...I once idolized. They were always headed off to Silver Lake where one of them had a secret shorefront cabin, to waterski and make merry before a bonfire of vanities. Literally and figuratively. Kim and Heidi, Kim and Heidi, I can't forget those names and them bragging about their sordid conquests with these innocent girls.

My pop stopped going to the store after arriving late one night to return a hammer and seeing them atop a pallet of roofing shingles, playing a brooms and totally rocking out to Van Halen, the girls dancing like sex-addled groupies.

Mrodgers82
Mrodgers82

I saw that Vic character one time, and he looked squirelly, to say the least, driving a white Econoline van, looking this way and that, while filling his tank at Scotty's Shell. Funny, this giant green thing bulged, almost exploded, from the van's back doors, while a guy he addressed as Rob used a hydraulic jack to jam the doors shut to no avail. Vic's red bandana was soaked with sweat, and his beard dripped a black tarry substance, that my girlfriend nailed as mascara. Never forget this scene!

Chfstustnge
Chfstustnge

I remember the Vic kid from following his yellow Mustang one afternoon. On a high-speed chase. Through a corn field. After my pursuit ended and I apprehended the suspect, turns out he was using his buddy's car for a bank heist. Kid used a BB pistol. Looked real I guess. During interrogation we went over and over his story, and the only clue we got to the car's owner? One word: Vic.

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