By 1918 he had moved on to Texas, where he founded and folded two oil companies, dissipating his accumulated wealth of about $50,000 (about $510,000 today).  Nearly broke, he tried to recover his fortunes by initiating the Petroleum Producers Association (PPA), which, although it did do some oil exploration, was mainly a stock reloading scheme that traded in exchanges of worthless oil shares for PPA shares and a small premium.  Cook and his publicist S.E.J. Cox raked in millions in cash, but spent it as quickly as it came in on promotion and on buying “sucker lists” to solicit more exchanges of worthless stock.
    In 1923, Cook and his associates were indicted for using the US Mails to defraud.  In a month-long show trial intended to put an end to the numerous oil speculation frauds in Texas and Arkansas, the government put a parade of witnesses on the stand and offered a mountain of exhibits intended to expose PPA as a front for a huge pyramid scheme.  The jury quickly convicted Cook and some other PPA officials on all counts, and the judge in the case threw the book at him, as much, it seems, as retribution for his exploration hoaxes as the seriousness of his crimes, sentencing him to more than 14 years in the Federal penitentiary. 
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