Articles Posted in Ponzi Scams

Prosecutors in Massachusetts have filed charges against hedge fund manager Raymond Montoya for allegedly bilking investors of millions of dollars in a Ponzi-like scam. The criminal charges against him include wire fraud and mail fraud, and they come two months after state regulators brought their own charges against him.

Montoya ran the hedge fund RMA Strategic Opportunity Fund LLC. He is accused of misusing millions of dollars of investors’ funds to pay back earlier investors, as well as to pay for his son’s mortgage along with luxury items and expenses. The criminal complaint stated that Montoya told investors that RMA held about $4B in assets under management and employed proprietary software to predict stock price changes.

In reality, contend prosecutors, the hedge fund manager oversaw less than $100M and invested just part of victim’s funds.

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Haena Park, the Harvard-educated financier who pleaded guilty to the commodities fraud that bilked over 40 investors of more than $23M, is sentenced to three years in prison. Park defrauded friends and family over six years, beginning in 2008, by soliciting investments in different commodities and securities, including equities, futures, and forex transactions.

Even after she lost investors’ money, Park continued to solicit new investors, claiming up to 50% yearly returns and generating false monthly statements that concealed the large losses. Among her victims were immigrants who worked multiple jobs, older investors who saw their life savings disappear, and a paraplegic who suffered $4M in investment losses.

After Park pleaded guilty early this year, then-US Attorney Preet Bharara said that Park was not just admitting to the fraud, but also acknowledging that she lied about her trading expertise, as well as return rates, to draw in investors.

In Oregon, a district court judge has refused to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit accusing TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Integrity Bank & Trust, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Eisner Amper LP, and law firms Tonkon Torp and Sidley Austin of playing a part in the alleged securities fraud committed by Aequitas Management LLC, which is now defunct.

Over 1500 investors entrusted over $350M to Aequitas. They each invested amounts ranging from about $60K to over $1M in Aequitas funds, including the Aequitas Income Opportunity Fund II LLC that they now claim was a Ponzi scam.

Last year, in its civil securities case, the US Securities and Exchange Commission accused the Oregon-based investment group and three of its executives of concealing the firm’s financial woes while still raising millions of dollars. Investors thought they were backing investments involving transportation, education, and healthcare when their funds were allegedly being used to save Aequitas. Meantime, newer investors’ funds were also used to pay earlier investors in a Ponzi-like scam.
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Oil Well Company and Founders Accused In $2.4M Offering Fraud
The SEC has filed offering fraud-related charges against Kentucky-Tennessee 50 Wells/400 BBLPD Block, Limited Partnership, its founders, and three members of its sales team over a $2.4M offering fraud. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s complaint, the oil well company fraudulently offered and sold unregistered securities to investors through a boiler room operation. They raised about $2.4M from 41 investors.

Carol J. Wayland and her son John C. Mueller founded K-T 50 Wells. They are accused of misappropriating investor funds for purposes not disclosed in the private placement memorandum, including taking more than $871K for their own expenses and making Ponzi payments to some investors.

Real Estate Agent Allegedly Sold Unregistered Securities as Part of Brother’s Ponzi Scam
Cheryl L. Jones is accused of defrauding investors by helping her brother, Mark Jones, recruit investors for his Ponzi scam. The Commission contends that Jones brought in associates and friends to buy unregistered promissory notes and personal guarantees that her brother was involved in.

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At the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli is on trial for multiple counts of securities fraud and wire fraud. Just this Monday, over 120 potential jurors were dismissed for various reasons. A number of them, through their statements, revealed that they could not be impartial, with some blaming Shkreli for problems involving the pharmaceutical industry, including that his actions had directly impacted them and/or their loved ones.

For example, one potential juror said that both of his parents now struggle to pay for their daily medical care after Shkreli raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50/pill to $750/pill overnight. The drug is used to treat parasites and has also been used for babies and AIDS patients suffering from infection. At the time of the price hike, Shkreli was running Turing Pharmaceuticals.

This criminal securities fraud case, however, is not about his time at Turing. Shkreli is accused of using the assets of Retrophin, a biotech company, in a Ponzi-like fraud when he was its CEO and of robbing investors of over $11M.

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Investment Advisory Firm Founder Gets 2-Year Prison Term, Will Pay $1.3M for Fraud
Michael J. Breton, a Massachusetts investment adviser, has been sentenced to two years behind bars for running a cherry picking scam that allowed him to bilk clients. Breton, the founder of Strategic Capital Management, admitted to keeping profitable trades for himself while making unprofitable ones for customers. Breton has been ordered to pay them $1.3M in restitution.

The cherry picking scheme went on for six years, bilking 30 investors. According to regulators and prosecutors, when certain companies were slated to announce earnings announcements, Breton would purchase securities through a master account or via block trading. When the earnings news would raise a stock’s price, Breton would keep the trades. When an earnings announcement would cause a stock’s price to go down,
he would disburse these trades to clients.

Jury Convicts Indiana Investment Advisor of Securities Fraud
This week in Pittsburgh, a jury convicted Bernard Parker of mail fraud, securities fraud, and of filing false tax returns. Parker, who was the principal of Parker Financial Services, is accused of bilking 22 clients of over $1.2M and falsifying his US tax returns by not including over $790K in income.

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Stephen J. Hatch, the mastermind of a $70M Arizona Ponzi scam, has been sentenced to five years in prison. Hatch, who pleaded guilty to fraud, targeted Christian investors, causing many of them to lose their life savings.

As part of his plea deal, the Texas man agreed to pay back $1M to investors. Meantime, prosecutors agreed to not file criminal charges against Hatch’s children.

Many of his victims were family members and friends. Hatch persuaded 110 investors to back various real estate properties by promising double digit returns on land deals.

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SEC Charges Man Accused of Running $10M Ponzi Scam
Mark Anderson Jones, whom the US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged with fraud, has been sentenced to 70 months in prison in a parallel criminal case. Jones pleaded guilty to running a $10M Ponzi scam.

According to the SEC, Jones solicited investors in a number of US states, as well as in Washington DC. He did this by issuing promissory notes, as well as providing personal guarantees to clients that were willing to invest in The Bridge Fund, which supposedly lent money to Jamaican businesses that were waiting to get commercial bank loans.

However, rather than investing their money the way he said he would, Jones used a portion of investors’ cash to pay his own expenses as well as make Ponzi payments.

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Over the weekend, Yasuna Murakami, a Cambridge-Massachusetts based hedge fund manager, was arrested and charged with wire fraud. Murakami, who managed MC2 Capital Management LLC, is accused of misappropriating investors’ funds in a Ponzi-like scam. The arrest and criminal charges come a few months after the state’s regulator, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, filed his own administrative case against Murakami for the fraud.

Prosecutors are accusing the hedge fund manager of seeking to bilk investors. The MC2 Capital Canadian Opportunities Fund was supposed to grant American investors exposure to a Donville Kent Asset Management-supervised fund. Instead, Murakami allegedly misused investors’ money to pay for his bills, including purchases at expensive department stores, as well as to make his own investments in the fund.

He is accused of using investors’ money to pay other investors in two other MC2 hedge funds and allegedly misappropriating money from those funds. Under the charging statute, If convicted, Murakami could face up to 20 years in prison, supervised release, a fine, and be ordered to pay up to two times the gross loss or gain.

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Eight years after Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for defrauding investors in a $65 billion Ponzi scam, thousands of his victims have still not seen any of the money that they lost. These investors’ claims are being handled by Madoff Victim Fund administrator Richard Breedon, whose firm RCB Fund Services was retained by the federal government to give $4B back to them.

Breeden had estimated last year that up to 40,000 victims would get their first recovery checks by the end of 2016. That didn’t happen. Now, he has stated that the initial distribution will happen this year and will be larger than what would have gone out previously. Claims processes and inadequate paperwork by some investors were some of the reasons cited for the delay.

It is Breedon’s job to recommend to the federal government which claims to reject or pay. His fund accepts recovery claims from all of types of investors who entrusted their money to Madoff, including feeder funds. Breedon’s fees come out of investors’ recovery.

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