The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Orlando, Florida-based DFRF Enterprises, LLC, its owner, and several of its promoters with operating a $15 million pyramid and Ponzi scheme falsely promising over 1,400 investors in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking communities in Massachusetts, Florida, and elsewhere interests in non-existent gold mines in Brazil and Africa. DFRF Enterprises, LLC (a Florida-based company), DFRF Enterprises LLC (a Massachusetts-based company) (collectively “DFRF”), company owner Daniel Fernandes Rojo Filho (of Winter Garden, FL), and investment promoters Wanderley M. Dalman (Revere, MA), Gaspar C. Jesus (Malden, MA), Eduardo N. DaSilva (Orlando, FL), Heriberto C. Perez-Valdes (Miami, FL), Jeffrey A. Feldman (Boca Raton, FL), and Romildo DaCunha (Brazil) were charged with multiple violations of federal securities laws in a Complaint filed in Massachusetts federal court. The SEC is seeking injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, and civil monetary penalties.
According to the SEC, DFRF claimed to operate more than 50 gold mines in Brazil and Africa that collectively produced 13-16 tons of gold monthly, realized a return of over 100% on each kilogram it produced, and controlled gold reserves valued at approximately $1.4 trillion. The sales pitch also claimed, among other things, that DFRF donated 25% of its profits to African charities and that investors could realize a 15% monthly return — an annual return of nearly 200%. DFRF purportedly promised investors that their investments were fully insured and promised investors that with the company’s stock allegedly set to become publicly traded, each investor would have the ability to convert his/her membership interests into stock options at approximately $15.00 per share. When recently questioned about the status of the stock, Filho allegedly claimed that the “value” of the stock had already surpassed $64 per share.
However, according to the SEC: “There are no gold mines, no gold reserves, or no gold operations. DFRF bank documents indicate that none of the investors’ money has been used to conduct gold mining, and DFRF has received no proceeds from gold mining operations.” Instead, the SEC has charged that the company’s revenue came solely from selling membership interests to investors, not from mining gold; and that to keep the fraud afloat, commissions were paid to earlier investors using new investors’ funds in typical a Ponzi-like fashion. In the SEC lawsuit, Filho is accused of siphoning more than $6 million for his own personal lavish lifestyle that included a fleet of luxury automobiles.