Gold Mine Scamster Rips Off Couple for $5M
Fraudster spent elderly couple's cash on oxygen chamber
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2009 1:47 AM CST
Authorities found $500,000 in gold coins under Walthall's bed when they arrested him at a friend's home.   (FBI)

(Newser) – A California man who claimed to have a new way of extracting gold from old mines has been busted for bilking a couple in their '80s out of nearly $5 million. John Arthur Walthall blew the couple's cash on cars, alimony, film school fees for his son, and a $60,000 hyperbaric oxygen chamber, according to cops. Some $500,000 in gold coins was found under his bed, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Walthall persuaded the couple to sink their savings into a scheme to extract gold from abandoned mines in California, Nevada, and Brazil, and told them he had already invested $3 million of his own, authorities say. He has been charged with offenses including money laundering and wire fraud, and faces a maximum penalty of 150 years in federal prison if convicted on all counts.