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Peru nabs scam suspect on FBI most wanted list

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Rafael Romo, CNN
updated 10:11 PM EST, Wed December 11, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Eric Bartoli faces charges of money laundering and fraud in Ohio
  • Peruvian police arrest him while is jogging
  • Bartoli was on the FBI's most wanted list
  • He's accused of operating a $65 million Ponzi scheme

(CNN) -- Police in Peru say they nabbed one of the world's top scam artists on Wednesday when they arrested a securities broker whose alleged crimes earned him a spot on the FBI's most wanted list.

Authorities say Eric Bartoli had been on the lam for more than a decade after bilking hundreds of investors out of millions of dollars.

He faces a number of charges, the FBI says, including money laundering, securities fraud and conspiracy in connection with an alleged $65 million Ponzi scheme.

His case was featured on the CNBC series "American Greed: The Fugitives" in an episode titled "Main Street Double Cross," which detailed authorities efforts to find Bartoli.

"They track him to Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont. They're just hopping around," a promo posted on the show's website says. "And then at some point, he did disappear. Nobody could find him."

Bartoli, 59, who also has several aliases and passports from Peru and Argentina, had been at large for more than 10 years.

But police in Peru tracked him down on Wednesday in what the FBI told CNN Cleveland affiliate WOIO was a joint operation between U.S. and Peruvian authorities.

They escorted a tight-lipped Bartoli, wearing a track suit and a bulletproof vest, before television cameras.

Authorities arrested him when he was jogging in a park south of the country's capital Wednesday morning, the state-run Andina news agency reported.

"A team of Cleveland and international FBI resources worked closely with the Peruvian authorities to locate and apprehend Eric Bartoli," Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland Field Office, said in a written statement. "We hope that the long awaited prosecution of Bartoli will provide some satisfaction to the many individuals he defrauded."

U.S. authorities have requested his extradition, Andina said.

But a court in Lima had also issued an arrest warrant for him, accusing Bartoli of money laundering, Peruvian National Police Col. Oscar Llatas told CNN en EspaƱol.

Investigators in Peru uncovered a series of shell companies tied to Bartoli that moved massive quantities of money, Police Col. Segundo Mejia said.

In Peru, Llatas told Andina, Bartoli allegedly duped victims by offering them large returns on investments in oil, telecommunications and craft companies. He started to operate in Peru in 2005, Llatas said, and intelligence reports indicate he entered the South American nation in 2010.

"Once he got money from his victims," Llatas said, "he disappeared."

Journalist Maria Elena Belaunde and CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

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