The Idaho Department of Finance has picked its top five investment scam cases for 1990, in which it says Idaho residents were swindled out of more than a half-million dollars.

In November, the agency filed suit against Boise and Salt Lake City promoters at Offshore Finance who offered 700 percent profits from an "equity enhancement" program using the Global Stock Exchange in Panama.The suit alleged that $150,000 invested in the company was used for the promoters' personal expenses, and that the promoters lied about the companies involved and failed to disclose prior court action.

A California company, Morgan Whitney Trading Group, is accused of using high-pressure boiler room sales tactics to sell gold, silver and platinum. The agency sued the company in September after Idaho investors reportedly lost $315,000.

A May lawsuit accused Idaho attorney Tom Walker of fraud in connection with limited partnerships and tax shelter investments.

The suit said 30 investors bought $1.5 million in securities from Walker after he told them that an affiliated company would receive only $2,500 in fees. But $20,000 was taken, and the separate company was owned by Walker and his family, according to the suit.

Also in May, a Boise judge ordered an Arizona company, Karisma, to stop telemarketing that offered prizes of a Hawaiian vacation, Xerox stock and a Ford Taurus. Consumers were told they had to buy a water purifier or health care products to receive a prize.

The court ordered Karisma to refund $30,000 to 50 consumers.

And the agency filed suit in October against two Texas companies and their officers for selling unregistered investments in Texas oil wells.

Idaho residents lost $40,000 in the promotion as New West Energy and Hawkeye Oil and Gas failed to disclose enforcement orders from other states and lied about risks and profits, according to the agency.