When Timothy O. Temple was looking for funds to finance a $2.2 million racquetball club on Capitol Hill two years ago, he spotted an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal offering low-interest loans from a foreign lender.
Temple answered the ad, then became suspicious and called the FBI.
The Washington businessman's suspicions lead to an FBI investigation that resulted yesterday in a 32-count indictment charging a dozen persons with fraud in an international scheme that allegedly collected advance fees for loans that were never made.
At the FBI's urging, Temple pretended to go along with the deal and paid more than $10,000 to the alleged swindlers, according to the indictments.
Temple never got the loan.
The indictments were handed down in Orlando, Fla., the home base of Murgo and Sanborn Associates Inc., the firm allegedly behind what lawmen call an "advance fee scheme."
Named in the indictment was company President Victor E. Murgo, who was arrested yesterday by U.S. Customs officers at Miami International Airport when he got off a plane from London. Murgo and seven others were charged with mail fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy; lesser charges were filed against others allegedly involved in a series of transactions.
Among those indicted was Seymour Pollack, 70, of Fort Lee, N.J., who has been linked to various business swindles going back more than 20 years.
Temple is one of several business persons from across the country who, the indictments say, were drawn into a phony loan scheme involving Caribbean banks and Canadian money brokers.
Temple could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The indictment says that Temple answered a Wall Street Journal ad placed by Murgo, who said he could help Temple obtain a $2.2 million loan at 12 percent interest.
Murgo claimed he was on the board of the Pan American Banking Corp. Ltd. of London and had already helped two racquetball clubs obtain financing through a Canadian company, Murgo and Sanborn Associates Inc.
The indictment says Temple became suspicious because he had earlier been the intended victim of another loan scheme. When Temple called the FBI is not disclosed, but in November 1980, Temple paid $1,200 to Murgo for "preliminary approval expenses" for a loan.
Murgo asked for additional fees to continue "processing" the loan application, and in February 1981, Temple flew to Toronto carrying a $3,000 check. Also accompanying him was John N. Richardson, an undercover FBI agent, the indictment disclosed.
Murgo promised to arrange a loan from the Royce Bank on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, but its charter had been revoked by St. Vincent authorities as a result of another investigation, according to the indictment.