Marshals auctioning helicopter

The U.S. Marshals Service will use Bid4Assets.com to conduct an online auction this week to recoup funds for a forfeited helicopter.

Bid4Assets Inc., an online marketplace where government agencies can buy and sell government-seized assets, will hold the auction April 19-26.

Bidding on the 1983 Augusta A109A II helicopter begins at $670,000. Interested buyers can schedule a time to view the helicopter through Bid4Assets by sending an e-mail to service@bid4assets.com.

Bid4Assets has been conducting asset sales for the Marshals Service since December 1999, including the sale of three 10-acre tracts of land in Hawaii in March 2001 for more than $400,000 and a 1994 Lamborghini Diablo in September 2000 for $125,000.

Tom Kohn, chief executive officer of Bid4Assets, said the company is looking forward to "returning as much money as possible to the innocent victims in this case."

The helicopter is the last asset to be sold from a restitution case resulting from international investment fraud. The case established that the defendants, from whom this helicopter and other assets were seized, had collected $117 million in investor money for buying "viaticated" insurance policies.

Viatical settlements involve the purchase of life insurance policies or their benefits at a discounted rate from a terminally ill person. A viatical investor is supposed to receive the full benefits when the terminally ill person dies. In this case, only about $6.5 million were used to buy insurance policies. The defendants used the remainder to buy houses in Florida, Vermont, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia and Canada, as well as helicopters and luxury automobiles.

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