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Discussion: The Ponzi Scheme That Rocked Tulare County

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Joe Moore
/
Valley Public Radio
Arno Smit made off with an estimated $12 million from local dairymen he’d duped in a massive fraud.";

Arno Smit isn’t a household name in the valley.

But starting in the 1990’s the South African immigrant pulled off a scam the likes of which the valley hasn’t seen before or since. The story of this self-fashioned cattle baron who was actually running a ponzi scheme is the subject of a new piece in the California Sunday Magazine by journalist Tessa Stuart. 

In it, she explores how Smit scammed Tulare County dairymen for an estimated $12 million, eventually fleeing the country and starting an international manhunt. Stuart joined us on Valley Edition to talk about how the smooth-talking Smit crafted his scheme, and its legacy to this day. Listen to the interview by clicking play above. 

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.
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