Published: Dec 22, 2010 12:23 AM EST
Updated: Dec 21, 2010 9:21 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Deputies have been investigating former financial advisor John Romanoff for two years now.

According to court records, he told a number of investors their money was going toward "Island Way", a company that owns refreshment stands across the state. But deputies say he spent the money on himself, and the $350,000 may be gone for good.

 "Mr. Romanoff knew all these people fairly well either professionally or personally," said LCSO Detective Mark Zellman.

Zellman says it's important to do your homework if you're planning on investing in a small business. Make sure the venture exists, and draw up a contract if you need to. Also look into if the person or business you are investing with has any civil suits pending against them.