Man Tries to Evade FBI in James Bond-Like Sea Scooter Escape

The man's underwater escape attempt came after he was accused of a $35 million fraud.
Chris Young

Spectators might have thought they were witnessing the filming of a new James Bond movie.

In truth, anyone at the scene would have seen a suspected US fraudster fail at a getaway that started with him fleeing by car and ended with him trying to escape by using a sea scooter.

Matthew Piercey, 44, a California man accused of leading a $35 million Ponzi scheme at his local church briefly evaded justice before he was caught at the cold lake he tried to use as a prop for his escape.


Failed James Bond-style escape

Officials explained that when they moved in to arrest Mr. Piercey on Monday he fled in a pickup truck.

The assailant drove off the road twice before he was seen jumping into the lake near the city Redding with a device in his hands, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Far from orchestrating an escape worthy of an Ian Fleming espionage novel, Mr. Piercey was caught after spending 25 minutes underwater; the pursuing FBI agents watched his bubbles until he emerged and waited on the lakeshore with handcuffs.

Sea scooters, also known as diver propulsion vehicles, are devices that propel divers underwater. They were used during a famous chase sequence in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball and have also been used by the military in real life.

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SeaScooter flight risk

Police learned that the model used by Mr. Piercey was a Yamaha 350Li, which is capable of reaching speed up to 4 mph (6.5 km/h) and traveling 100 feet (30 meters) underwater — take a look at a promotional video of the model below.

"You never know what is going through someone's mind when they're being pursued by the FBI," lawyer Josh Kons, who is representing several victims of the alleged fraud, said, via the BBC.

"And we kept investigating, and all of a sudden today, here he is trying to escape into a lake, using a submersible device."

Mr Piercey is charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, and witness tampering and is facing 20 years in prison. Prosecutors have also, unsurprisingly, deemed him a flight risk.

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