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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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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

How will regulators respond to Bitcoin’s price fluctuations?

Posted  05/18/21
By Sarah “Poppy” Alexander
Bitcoins stacked with stocks rising
The price of Bitcoin—never stable—has become even more erratic in the last month.  From April 17 to May 17, the price fell 26%.  Such a huge drop would be noteworthy in a stock investment.  But in something claiming to be a currency, that kind of instability is normally only seen in times of crisis and hyperinflation.  Coming just as cryptocurrencies are making a play to be considered mainstream, this latest...

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

Catch of the Week: Fraud Behind the Silver Screen

Posted  04/9/21
Canisters of movie film rolled out
This week the SEC announced that it obtained an emergency asset freeze in an enforcement action against L.A.-based actor Zachary Horwitz and his company 1nMM Capital, LLC for allegedly running a $690 million Ponzi scheme.  In its complaint, the SEC claimed Horowitz’s recent actions threatened to dissipate the remaining investor funds in his possession. While this story is still technically “mid-catch,” the...

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

April 8, 2021

A man in New Mexico has been ordered to pay over $10.3 million in monetary sanctions and relief after he admitted to running a Ponzi scheme that spanned nearly twenty years.  Instead of investing client funds in U.S. Treasury Bond futures, Douglas Lien misappropriated over $14.2 million from 45 clients, while charging them over $3.5 million in so-called management fees.  Lien has now been permanently banned from commodities trading and registering as a futures commission merchant.  CFTC

CFTC Clobbers Cryptocurrency Con Man

Posted  04/1/21
By Leah Judge
cryptocurrency scam
Last week, the CFTC announced that a federal court entered a nearly $600 million default judgment against a British man who used bitcoin to defraud more than 1,000 people worldwide.  The judgment is yet another indication that the CFTC will vigorously police cryptocurrency fraud.

The Scam

The CFTC filed a complaint against Benjamin Reynolds and his bitcoin trading and investment company, Control-Finance, back in...

Catch of the Week: The Long Tail of an Infamous Ponzi Scheme

Posted  02/26/21
gavel with handcuffs and money scattered around
In 2012, R. Allen Stanford, former head of Stanford International Bank (SIB), was sentenced to 110 years’ imprisonment for masterminding a massive Ponzi scheme through which he misappropriated $7 billion from bank customers.  That scheme had been running for twenty years when it was shut down in 2009. Now, in February 2021, ten years after Stanford’s conviction and thirty years after his scheme began, the...

February 24, 2021

Leroy King, the former chief of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in obstructing the SEC’s investigation into the $7 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by R. Allen Stanford and the Stanford International Bank.  Stanford provided King with cash and luxury gifts, and in exchange King improperly denied his agency’s assistance to the SEC.  DOJ
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