Robert Wyner, the Palm Beach Realtor who committed suicide in a dowtown West Palm Beach parking garage two months ago, was looking for $100 million in investments for a Christian-film production company that ran into legal trouble in California, Gossip Extra has learned.
Wyner, and others at the faith-based Desert Wind Films, were approaching rich but Bernie Madoff-weary Palm Beachers for individual investments between $100,000 and $1 million. according to Desert Wind brochures, the projected return rates would hover between 15 and 20 percent.
One would-be investor tapped by Wyner contacted Gossip Extra because he believed the offering was “too good to be true,” in addition to being registered on the Bermuda stock exchange!
What’s more, Gossip Extra has found that Desert Wind CFO Steven Camp agreed to give up a license to trade commodities futures and paid a $120,000-fine for soliciting illegally investors, according to federal records.
Finally, Desert Wind officials signed a desist-and-refrain order with the California Department of Corporations for illegally cold-calling investors to fund its first completed movie, Brother’s Keeper.
The wholesome flick, which stresses family values, has yet to find a distributor.
Wyner’s involvement with Desert Wind, meanwhile, shed more light on Wyner’s business relationships in the days leading to his shooting himself in the head, relationships that also included former jailbird and convicted fraudster Bob Wilson.
Before his death, Wyner introduced Wilson to potential Desert Wind investors as the man who came up with a scheme to guarantee the cash invested into the movies through a pool of life-insurance policies.
Life insurance investments are exotic, potentially profitable yet risky schemes in which investors buy life insurance policies from holders while they’re alive for a fraction of the death benefit. The investors receive the total amount from the policy when the holders die.
What Wyner wasn’t telling potential Desert Wind investors, however, is that Boca Raton resident Wilson served 54 months in a federal prison for defrauding investors coast-to-coast of more than $20 million.
“I didn’t invest,” said the source who was originally approached by Wyner and Wilson on behalf of Desert Wind. He asked not to be identified. “There were too many red flags. But Robert said he put some of his money to keep the film company going. You have to wonder if his problem didn’t result from this.”
Wyner killed himself as Florida state regulators received a complaint that $250,000 was missing from an escrow account by his real estate company, Barclays International Realty.
Desert Wind CFO Camp, meanwhile, is still trying to find investors in Palm Beach but now says he has yet to raise his first dollar since Wyner’s death.
“We have not officially started soliciting,” Camp told me today. “We’re just trying to gauge whether there’s any interest.”
Earlier in the conversation, he said: “Yes, we are seeking investors.”
Besides Wyner’s prominence on the Desert Wind business plan brochure, Camp now says Wyner had “no role” in Desert Wind.
“Robert was only going to be the financier,” Camp said. “We’re still grieving for him.”
Wilson, said Camp, was never allowed to solicit investors for Desert Wind and isn’t a part of the company.
As for his personal background, Camp admitted to losing his trader’s license but said he disagreed with federal authorities that he illegally solited clients. Just like he disagreed with California that Desert Wind was raising money there illegally.
Should Palm Beacher trust Camp with their money?
“That’s left to the discression of each investor,” Camp said. “But there’s a lot of money to be made in Christian movies.”