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Ponzi Schemes

This archive displays posts tagged as relevant to Ponzi and pyramid schemes. You may also be interested in the following pages:

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December 10, 2018

Steven Pagartanis pled guilty to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that ran for 18 years. Pagartanis solicited elderly victims by guaranteeing a fixed return of 4.5 to 8 percent annually in real estate-related investments. Pagartanis directed his victims to make checks payable to an entity he secretly controlled and then utilized a network of bank accounts to launder the stolen funds, which he used to pay for exorbitant personal expenses and to cover purported “interest” payments. Pagartanis’ scheme resulted in actual losses of over $9 million and many of his victims lost substantial portions of their life savings. A civil case against Pagartanis has also been filed by the SEC. DOJ

November 28, 2018

Edwin Fujinaga, the former president and CEO of MRI International, Inc., which purported to be a medical collections and investment company, was convicted after a five-week trial for his role in a $1.5 billion ponzi scheme. Fujinaga solicited investments from over 10,000 Japanese residents, promising investors that their funds would be used to purchase medical debt. In fact, less than two percent of investor funds were used to purchase medical claims.  Fujinaga diverted the remainder for personal use and to pay off earlier investors.  In 2013, the Japanese government revoked MRI's license to market securities.  USAO NV

November 16, 2018

The CFTC and State of Utah have charged Rust Rare Coin, Inc. (RRC) and owner Gaylen Dean Rust for their roles in a precious metals Ponzi scheme. According to the DOJ press release, beginning in 2008 until only just recently, Rust fraudulently obtained over $170 million for RRC by lying to at least 200 investors in at least 17 states to get them to invest money in a silver pool. Investors were told the company's silver holdings amounted to between $77 to $80 million, and they stood to gain between 20-40% profit each year as a result of RRC’s buying and selling strategy. In reality, however, the defendants did not have nearly as much silver and were using investor contributions to pay other investors, as well as personal expenses. CFTC, UT AG

October 30, 2018

A Mississippi man has been sentenced to almost 20 years in prison for defrauding 320 investors in 14 states of more than $165.5 million dollars in what is being called the largest Ponzi scheme to come out of that state. From 2011 to 2018, Arthur Lamar Adams told investors that his company, Madison Timber Properties, LLC, bought and sold timber rights and that investments would go toward financing contracts with lumber mills. To further the scheme, he falsified timber deeds, forged signatures, and created fraudulent documents for investors. USAO SDMS

October 17, 2018

A former financial advisor turned online sportswear retailer has been convicted of numerous counts of fraud for running a $20 million Ponzi scheme. Between 2014 and 2017, Dawn Bennett allegedly convinced investors to invest in her company, DJB Holdings, by misrepresenting its financial health and the investment risks. With the money she obtained from 46 investors, many of them elderly, Bennett paid legal expenses and repaid earlier investors. After the fraud was discovered, Bennett allegedly arranged to have priests in India perform protective spells on her behalf. Unfortunately for her, the spells did not work as intended, and she now faces a lifetime in prison. USAO MD

October 17, 2018

An investment advisor who owned and operated an investment firm called CM Capital Management LLC has plead guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 53 investors of $6.1 million over the course of 13 years. In at least 13 of those cases, the investors with Edward Lee Moody, Jr.'s firm were elderly people who had entrusted him with their life savings. Instead of investing the funds on his clients' behalf, Moody used them to buy securities for himself, as well as buy a home, make car payments, and travel. To cover his tracks, he paid earlier investors using funds obtained from newer investors and created falsified statements that showed earned returns. Yet the reality was that in most of those cases, Moody hadn't even opened brokerage accounts for his clients, let alone buy securities on their behalf. He now faces a sentence of decades in prison at his sentencing in February. USAO EDVA

September 19, 2018

Three men from three states have been indicted for allegedly conspiring to defraud more than 230 investors of more than $364 million in a classic Ponzi scheme, and in one of the largest ever charged in Maryland. Kevin B. Merrill, Jay B. Ledford, and Cameron Jezeierski of Maryland, Nevada, and Texas, respectively, allegedly persuaded investors across the country that they could make a profit by purchasing consumer debt portfolios that would either have their debt collected upon or be sold to other debt buyers. Instead, the defendants used the money to purchase expensive homes, boats, jewelry, and at least 25 cars, as well as lead a generally lavish lifestyle. To conceal the fraud, the defendants allegedly created fake debt selling companies, bank accounts, and brokers, and generated false contracts, records, and reports. They face both criminal charges from the DOJ and civil charges from the SEC, and if convicted, face both financial penalties as well as decades in prison for the combined charges. USAO MD; SEC

July 3, 2018

A New York attorney was sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding investors in a Ponzi-style scheme he created.  He was also required to pay just over $2 million in restitution to his investors.  Like the namesake scheme, this one relied on using new investors to pay out the supposed returns of the initial investors.  USAO WDNY

June 19, 2018

The SEC has filed charges to shut down a $102M Ponzi scheme that affected investors throughout the US. According to the complaint, the scheme defrauded over 600 investors though sales of securities that the issuers controlled. The complaint charges five individuals and three companies with wrongdoing; it was filed in federal court in New York. SEC

June 14, 2018

Philadelphia investment adviser Carl Frederic Sealy pleaded guilty to fraud charges in connection with a $1.6 million Ponzi scheme he operated. Sealy told investors their funds would be used to finance real estate deals, but the deals were non-existent. Instead, Sealy used his clients’ investments to fund lavish personal expenditures, including spa services, hotels, and restaurants.  USAO EDPA
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