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Articles Tagged with ponzi schemes

A grand jury of the U.S District Court in Spartanburg, S.C. indicted former broker Claus C. Foerster (CRD# 1912949) for defrauding clients of $2.8 million over a 14-year period.

Foerster perpetrated the fraud from 2000 to June 2014 while employed as a financial advisor at Smith Barney & Co., Morgan Keegan & Co. and Raymond James Financial Inc., according to an indictment filed March 8, 2016 in the U.S. District Court in Spartanburg, S.C.

The charges follow the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.’s 2014 decision to bar Foerster from the brokerage industry due to allegations that he was running a Ponzi scheme.

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.

A former broker with O.N. Equity Sales Company in Norfolk, Virginia, was permanently barred by FINRA.  Josh Abernathy was barred from association in any manner with any FINRA member for failing to provide information requested by FINRA.  Abernathy was registered with The O.N. Equity Sales Company from February 2013 until August 2014.  Prior to working at O.N., he worked at Next Financial Group and MML Investors Services.  Abernathy also owned and controlled his own investment company called Omega Investment Group which he allegedly used to operate a Ponzi scheme.

Silver Law Group represents investors in securities and investment fraud cases.  Our lawyers are admitted to practice in New York and Florida and represent investors nationwide to help recover investment losses due to stockbroker misconduct.  If you have any questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney. Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has obtained a federal court Order imposing $44 million in sanctions against Robert J. Andres of Houston, TX; his company, Winsome Investment Trust (“Winsome”); Robert L. Holloway of San Diego, CA; and his company, US Ventures LC (“US Ventures”); for fraud in operating a commodities futures pool.  The sanction includes a civil monetary penalty of over $32 million as well as a restitution award of $12 million to be paid to defrauded investors.  The Order also imposes upon the individuals and companies a permanent trading and registration ban.

According to the Order entered by the Honorable Bruce S. Jenkins of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Andres and Winsome (from May 2005 through November 2008) fraudulently solicited and accepted over $50 million from investors who were told that they would be investing in a commodity futures pool operated by Holloway and US Ventures.  To garner the investors’ funds, Andres and Winsome purportedly made false statements claiming that the investment program had a successful track record and that each investor would be guaranteed a return of his/her principal plus profits.  The Court found those representations to be false, as Holloway and US Ventures’ futures trading actually suffered nearly $11 million in net losses.

The Court went on to conclude that the defendants misappropriated the majority of participant funds to pay investors false “profits” in a manner akin to a Ponzi scheme and that the defendants used investor funds for other improper purposes, such as providing money to Andres’ wife, funding Holloway’s and his wife’s lavish personal expenses (houses, cars, jewelry, etc.), and investing in various unrelated and undisclosed businesses including a business Holloway’s wife ran on eBay.  The Court Order explained that Andres and Holloway attempted to conceal the fraud by directing employees to falsify participants’ account records and to falsely represent to investors that the pool funds were trading profitably with virtually no losses during the relevant period.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) continued its onslaught against Scott Rothstein associates earlier this month when it filed suit in federal court against Barry R. Bekkedam (“Bekkedam”), Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of investment advisory firm Ballamor Capital Management (“Ballamor”).  The SEC suit follows a growing number of SEC actions against individuals and corporations accused of providing investor funds and assistance to convicted South Florida Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein.

The SEC alleges that Bekkedam, through Ballamor, solicited his clients and other prospective investors to invest $100 million into the Banyon Income Fund (“Banyon Fund’”), an enormous hedge fund that primarily financed Rothstein’s Ponzi-scheme operations.  The Banyon Fund was created by Bekkedam and Rothstein investor George Levin to solicit additional funds for Rothstein and, the SEC alleges, bolster Ballamor’s business and protect Levin’s multi-million dollar investments with Rothstein.

In seeking disgorgement and civil penalties against Bekkedam, the SEC details allegations of Bekkedam’s material misstatements and omissions to his customers in connection with the Banyon Fund, as well as misrepresentations about his dealings with George Levin, which the SEC alleges were quid pro quo for Bekkedam’s securing investments in the Banyon Fund.  The SEC also alleges numerous securities law violations.

In March 2014, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) obtained a supplemental Federal Court Order against Queen Shoals Consultants, LLC (“QSC”) and others to jointly pay in excess of five million dollars in penalties for defrauding customers in a currency or Forex trading scheme.  None of the Defendants were registered with the National Futures Association or the CFTC.  The Judge initially entered a permanent injunction finding that the Defendants defrauded customers in the Forex scheme and ordered the Defendants to pay restitution, amongst other sanctions.

According to a Court Order, a website “lured customers by claiming QSC and others had a ‘vast background in financial services’ with over 20 years of experience in financial services and a staff of experts ready to assist customers.” In truth, the Defendants were not experienced Forex traders and any promises or guarantees about profits were not true.  In fact, there were no Forex accounts and the investors were the victim of a Ponzi scheme.

If you have been the victim of a Forex or commodities trading scheme and would like to discuss your legal rights, contact the Silver Law Group.  We represent investors on a contingency fee basis in FINRA arbitration, NFA arbitration and state or federal court.  Please contact Scott Silver of the Silver Law Group for a free consultation at ssilver@silverlaw.com or Toll Free at (855) 755-4799.

UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico has received the attention of many market watchers in the media since their UBS Puerto Rico Family of Funds suffered a “meltdown” in value.  What did not receive adequate media attention are UBS’ sales practices which through the zeal of its financial advisors has left Puerto Rico residents holding excessive amounts of a failed financial product, and in many instances laden with UBS Bank loans.  We have learned firsthand the extent of the destruction experienced by Puerto Rican residents who have been targeted by UBS.

The UBS Puerto Rico Family of Funds, UBS Puerto Rico Fixed Income Funds and UBS Puerto Rico Investors Tax Free Funds, were designed to be sold exclusively to residents of Puerto Rico according to their Offering documents.  The investment objective was tax free income consistent with preservation of capital.  A closer look at the fine print deep in the Offering document tells investors a more cautious tale.

The Prospectus and Offering documents for the proprietary closed-end funds artfully disclose some of the potential risks deemed required by regulatory laws.  The risks include:

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