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August 23, 2021

Charles McAllister was ordered to pay $16.2 million in restitution to resolve claims arising from his operation of BullionDirect, Inc., which promised customers that it would purchase precious metals on their behalf, and deliver or store that metal. In fact, however, McCallister and BullionDirect did not purchase or store metal for customers, but instead misappropriated customer funds to pay back other customers, cover business expenses, and invest in other businesses.  Defendants sent false account statements to customers to conceal the fraud.  In 2019, McAllister was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  CFTC

August 10, 2021

The principles of the Global Trading Club, Mayco Alexis Maldonado Garcia, Cesar Castaneda, and Joel Castaneda Garcia, consented to an order requiring payments totaling $1.75 million in restitution and civil penalties.  The CFTC alleged that the individual falsely represented that GTC employed “master traders” in cryptocurrency transactions, promised returns to customers, and caused misleading trading statements to be posted online.  The order bars the individuals from registering with the CFTC and from trading commodity interests.  CFTC

August 6, 2021

Colorado resident Wayde McKelvy was sentenced to 18 years in prison and ordered to pay $37 million in restitution following conviction on charges related to his operation of a Ponzi scheme.  McKelvy and others operated Mantria Corporation, which they claimed offered huge returns by investing in real estate and green energy projects.  Through these misrepresentations, defendants obtained more than $54 million in funds from duped investors.  USAO ED PA

July 21, 2021

Suneet Singal, First Capital Real Estate Investments, LLC, and related entities, agreed to pay fines totaling over $7 million to resolve claims that they made material misrepresentations and omissions concerning First Capital Real Estate Trust Inc., a real estate investment trust.  The SEC alleged that defendants misrepresented the REIT’s property holdings, and that Singal fraudulently directed funds to his own use.  Singal was barred from the securities industry for at least ten years.  SEC

July 2, 2021

Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson of Sweden has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to forfeit more than $16 million, including several properties and a resort in Thailand, in one of the largest cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes ever prosecuted in the United States.  Starting in 2011 until his arrest in Thailand in 2019, Karlsson induced thousands of investors from around the country and over 45 countries around the world to use cryptocurrency to purchase shares in an entity he called Eastern Metal Securities, by falsely claiming that it was run by award-winning economists and had zero risk of loss.  He then misappropriated at least $1.5 million to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself.  USAO NDCA; DOJ; SEC

June 29, 2021

Accountant Steven Brown, who operated a financial consulting and investment company called Alpha Trade Analytics, Inc., has been sentenced to over 4 years in prison and ordered to pay over $3.3 million in restitution for running a Ponzi scheme that affected 48 victims, many of whom were connected to a nonprofit that provided dance and theater arts education to children.  Through his role as an accountant for the nonprofit, Brown received access to high-net-worth individuals, whom he encouraged to invest with Alpha Trade through false promises.  When it came time to pay out investors, Brown used funds from new investors, as well as funds embezzled from the nonprofit.  USAO CDCA

April 27, 2021

The owner of BMC Worldwide, Inc., which did business as Blue Moon Coins, Aaron Michael Scott, has agreed to an order for restitution of $1.4 million to customers who sent him funds for the purpose of purchasing gold and silver based on his false representations that he and BMC were a successful precious metals firm with an inventory of precious metals.  In fact, the defendants had no such inventory, and misappropriated customer funds for their own purposes.  Scott previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to four years in prison.  CFTC

April 9, 2021

The Alista Group, LLC, and Luis M. Pineda Palacios, a/k/a Luis Pineda, have been ordered to pay civil monetary penalties and restitution in an action initiated by the CFTC alleging that they engaged in precious metals fraud and illegal, off-exchange precious metals sales to retail customers.  In addition, the government alleged that defendants misappropriated customer funds to trade on their own account, pay business expenses, and make payments to customers to sought to cash out.  Alista was ordered to pay a total of $2.2 million, and Pineda was ordered to pay $448,000. CFTC

April 8, 2021

Circle Society, Corp. and its owner, David Gilbert Saffron, have been ordered to pay more than $32 million in restitution, disgorgement, and civil monetary penalty for cryptocurrency fraud and misappropriation.  First as an individual, and then through Circle Society, Saffron allegedly solicited millions in Bitcoin and U.S. dollars from at least 179 individuals by making false statements regarding his trading expertise and guaranteed rates of return.  However, rather than trading the fu­nds on foreign currencies and cryptocurrency pairs, Saffron directed­­ portions to his personal cryptocurrency wallet and used other portions to pay prior investors.  CFTC
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