Houston court hands out prison sentences for container Ponzi scheme creators

Container Ponzi schemes are proliferating around the world. As a court in Munich grapples with one of Germany’s largest post-war fraud schemes involving a local leasor and the swindling of investors to the tune of billions of dollars, a court in Houston, Texas yesterday sentenced a 54-year-old man to seven years and one month in federal prison after pleading guilty to a fraudulent shipping container scheme.

Steven Jones also was ordered to pay more than $8m in restitution. Jones was behind a company called Intermodal Wealth, which offered containers for sale to investors and then to lease them for the investors to clients. Jones promised an annual return of 16%, but prosecutors say the company had few containers and leased none of them. The partners instead spent most of the invested money.

Two other men pleaded guilty to charges and were imprisoned.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Sadly, most private investors know NOTHING about the container and shipping business and think that container leasing is a “get rich quick” opportunity without doing any of the usual due diligence that could be done with a public company.
    While there are naive investors with more money than sense, there will continue to be people who will take advantage of them.
    The message must always be – hire an expert with knowledge of the container shipping and leasing business to point you in the right direction before giving away your hard earned pennies to pirates.

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