Kathy Bazoian Phelps
Senior Counsel in Ponzi Scheme Litigation
and Bankruptcy Matters

Kathy is a senior business trial attorney with more than 30 years experience prosecuting and defending claims for high net worth clients involved in Ponzi scheme matters and in bankruptcy proceedings. Kathy’s practice includes recovering assets for clients in complex fraud cases under standard fee and alternative fee arrangements. She also handles SEC and CFTC whistleblower claims. Kathy also serves as a mediator in bankruptcy matters, in complex business disputes, and in matters requiring detailed knowledge about fraud or Ponzi schemes.

Kathy’s Clients in Ponzi Scheme Cases and Bankruptcy Matters
Equity Receivers
Bankruptcy Trustees
High Net Worth Investors
Debtors in Bankruptcy
Secured and Unsecured Creditors

Monday, October 31, 2022

October 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for October 2022. New Ponzi schemes and lots of prison sentences dominated the Ponzi scheme news this month. There were at least 7 new schemes reported worldwide and 101 years of prison sentences were imposed. The average age for the alleged Ponzi schemers was approximately 52. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

John Acker, 53, of Florida, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $3.2 million in restitution in connection with a $4 million scheme that he ran through shell companies including Miracle Strip Holdings X LLC, Miracle Strip Holdings XV LLC, Fujimo Development LLC, and Shipwreck Road LLC.

Michael Atkins, 49, is being held in custody in Ohio as authorities seek to extradite him to Singapore in connection with an alleged $4 million Ponzi scheme. Atkins is one of three directors of Aureus Capital, a foreign exchange trader in Singapore. The scheme promised returns of 40% to 50%. Atkins had fled Singapore by obtaining a new passport at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta after his original passport had been taken by Singaporean authorities,

Darrek Arnold Aviss, 64, of California, was sentenced to 11 years and one month in prison and ordered to pay about $14.5 million in restitution in connection with a scheme that stole about $14 million.  The scheme involved the purchase of annuities from insurance companies based in Switzerland and promised interest rates ranging from 5% to 7%.

Vania May Bell, 57, of New Jersey, was sentenced to 6½ years in prison and ordered to pay about $8 million in restitution in connection with the scheme run through Executive Compensation Planners. Bell helped run the scheme with her father, Hector May. The scheme involved more than $11 million stolen from 15 clients. May is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence.

Joshua Burrell, 39, was sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to pay $5 million in restitution in connection with a scheme that brought in $6.3 million from 14 investors. The scheme was run through Activated Capital.

Mauricio Chavez, 41, of Texas, was sued by the SEC in connection with his company, CryptoFX, which he founded with Giorgio Benvenuto, 55. The SEC alleges that Chavez was running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 5,000 investors, mostly in the Latino community. Chavez represented that investors could earn back half their investment in profits in 3 months and 90% in six months. The scheme raised more than $12 million but only $1 million was invested in crypto assets. Most of the money went to buy real estate, was used for personal expenses, and was diverted to their company, CBT Group

Michael J. DaCorta, 57, of Florida, was sentenced to 23 years in prison in connection the scheme run through Oasis International Group, Ltd. At least 700 investors lost more than $80 million in the scheme. Investor were told the investments were risk-free and that OASIS was profiting by being a “market maker” and collecting “spread” on FOREX trades. In fact, Oasis had no true revenue. DaCorta used investor funds to buy a Maserati and Range Rovers for his family members, a country club membership, multiple million-dollar homes in Florida, college tuition for family members, flights on private jets, and vacations.

Ray E. Grabato II, 43, Daniel Coley O’Brien, Thomas Nicholas Salzano, 64, and Arther S. Scuttaro, 62, along with the New Jersey-based company, National Realty Investment Advisors, LLC (NRIA), were charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged scheme that raised approximately $650 million from about 2,000 investors. The scheme promised investors returns of up to 20% from the supposed purchase and development of real estate properties. Olena Budinska and Jamie Samul aka Jamie Samul Salzano were named as relief defendants. The real estate fund was operated through NRIA Partners Portfolio Fund I LLC. Salzano, Scuttaro, and Grabato were criminally charged. Scuttaro pleaded guilty.

Arley Ray Johnson, 63, or Maryland, was convicted in connection with a $28 million Ponzi scheme run through The Smart Partners LLC dba 1st Million and 1st Million Dollars. Co-defendant Dennis Mbongeni Jali fled the country but has since been arrested in South Africa, and co-defendant John Erasmus Frimpong, 42, previously pleaded guilty. 1st Million held itself out as a wealth management and financial literacy company and offered a 12-month guaranteed investment contracts called “Corporate Guarantees.” Monthly returns of 6% to 35% were promised to investors, and more than 1,200 investors were defrauded. 

Anna Kline fka Jordana Weber, 33, of New Jersey, was indicted on charges relating to all alleged $7 million advance fee Ponzi scheme.  Kline owned and operated several companies that purported to loan money to small business in high value loans, often in excess of $100 million. A fee of up to 5% of the potential loan amount was charged as a “fee” prior to the loan being funded. Kline used the fees for personal expenses, along with her significant other, Jason Torres. 

Ari J. Lauer was sued by the SEC in connection with the DC Solar Solutions Ponzi scheme. The SEC alleges that Lauer deceived investors and help run the fraudulent scheme that brought in more than $910 million of investor funds. Lauer was paid more than $4.4 million in ill-gotten gains. Lauer was allegedly aware of the lack of legitimate lease revenue and provided false financial information to at least one investor. Owners Jeffrey Carpoff, 51, and Paulette Carpoff, 48, were sentenced to 30 years and 11 years, respectively.

Andrew Middlebrooks, of Michigan, was charged with running an alleged Ponzi scheme through EIA All Weather Alpha Fund Partners. He developed a specialized research program to analyze stocks and funds in real time but was unable to produce the returns promised to investors. Middlebrook reported positive returns of 135.74% when he knew EIA had incurred losses over $13 million. The alleged losses to at least 100 investors exceeded $27 million. 

Richard Lee Ramirez, 53, of California, was indicted on charges that he was running a “Ponzi-style” scheme through his company, JMJ Capital Group. The alleged scheme brought in at least $8 million from investors, promising returns of 10% to 14% within 90 days based on the supposed purchase and resale of personal protective equipment (PPE), factoring of accounts receivable, imports of furniture, and refurbishment of cruise ship air-conditioning units. Instead, Ramirez used the funds to pay for luxury cars, travel, other personal expenses, and to pay other investors. He allegedly stole at least $5 million of the $8 million he received from investors.

Perry Santillo, 42, of Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the Ponzi scheme run through First Nationle Solution LLC, Percipience Global Corporation, and United RL Capital Services LLC. The business reportedly used several names including Advice and Life Group, Poconos Investments, First American Securities and Financial Planners Group of America. Santillo admitted in his plea agreement that he took in approximately $115 million from investors who lost $70.7 million. 

Trendon Shavers, of Texas, was ordered imprisoned for civil contempt after he refused to produce certain documents and payments to the SEC. Shavers and his company, Bitcoin Savings and Trust, were previously sued by the SEC on allegations that they were running a bitcoin Ponzi scheme. Separately, Shavers pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. 

Stephen Romney Swensen, deceased, was sued by the SEC in Utah along with others in connection with a Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 50 investors out of more than $29 million. Investors placed their money with Crew Capital Group LLC, a Nevada entity, and were promised returns between 5% and 10%. Crew Capital did not purchase any securities with the money, but Swensen siphoned off the money for his own expenses instead. Clients were given false documents showing Pacific Investment Management Company as a subadvisor to Crew Capital. The SEC alleges that Crew Capital continues to display false information to investors on its website and the investor funds sent to Crew Capital is now being spent and dissipated.

David Varrone, 56, and his wife Sherry Varrone, of Florida, were charged in connection with an alleged scheme run through The Credit Engineers Inc. that took in approximately $6.4 million. The scheme was a credit leasing scheme in which individuals with good credit were offered a short-term “Credit Leasing” investment program that was tied to a purported hedge fund that would pay a guaranteed return and fully repay the loans within 3 years or less. The Varrones helped victims apply for the high interest, short-terms loans and then “lease” the proceeds to The Credit Engineers. 

INTERNATIONAL PONZI SCHEME NEWS 

Brazil

Authorities raided 20 addressed linked to the crypto fraud network controlled by Francisco Valdevino da Silva aka “Sheikh dos Bitcoins.” The scheme promised returns of up to 20% and took about $766 million from thousands of investors.

Canada

Sabrina Ling Huei Wei, James Bernard Law, and Justin Colin Villarin were found to have conspired in securities violations in connection with a scheme run through DFRF Enterprises LLC that was promoted by Daniel Fernandes Rojo Filho. They were found to have actively solicited investors on DFRF’s behalf when they knew or should have known that Filho was running a fraudulent scheme. The scheme promised investors returns from gold mining operations in Africa and Brazil that did not actually exist.

Larry Renton, who was being investigated for running a Ponzi scheme through The Miami Group, passed away. Renton was 58 and was a retired police officer who had allegedly defrauded friends and fellow officers.

England

David Ames,70, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 8,000 investors out of £398 million. The scheme involved luxury Caribbean holiday homes and was run through Harlequin Group, a hotel and resort development venture. Harlequin sold about 9,000 property units to investors, but fewer than 200 were actually built.

Abdul Mukith, 42, was sentenced to 8½ years in jail in connection with a scheme run with four others through Essex and London Properties Ltd, which falsely claimed to refurbish properties along the Elizabeth Line.

PGI Global U.K. was shut down after it allegedly defrauded investors out of about $709,000. Investors were promised returns of up to 200%. PGI is part of Praetorian Group International Trading, which was shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice. 

India

The crypto trading app, Ece Limited, vanished and is being investigated by authorities. The platform had more than 19,000 members. Ece claimed to be a U.S.-based firm and gave a $200 bonus to those who brought in new investors.

Jaydeep Raha, the managing director of Jetex Ocenair Pvt Ltd. was arrested on allegations he was running a fraudulent scheme in which Rs 1.83 crore were diverted to the account of OAK India Multistate Credit Co-operative Society of which Raha is the current managing director. 

Pradeep Sethy was sentenced to 5 years in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme run through Artha Tatwa Group.

Sanjay Kumar Singh was arrested on allegations that he colluded with Soumyarp Bhowmik in connection with a Ponzi scheme run through Sunmarg Welfare Organisation

Sri Lanka

Five individuals, including Shamal Keerthi Bandara and Zhang Kai, were arrested in connection with a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme called Sports Chain, which was supposedly a cryptocurrency investment platform. Investors were directed to transfer their “Sports Chain coins” to an option called the “Power Pool” where the coins would supposedly be multiplied times 5.

Uganda

BLQ Football Club shut down after cause losses that are believed to be greater than Shs60 billion.


Friday, September 30, 2022

September 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for September 2022. News in cryptocurrency schemes was prevalent this month, with 16 cryptocurrency firms hitting the Ponzi scheme news. At least 16 new Ponzi schemes worldwide were reported this past month, along with 4 guilty pleas, and more than 88 years of prison sentences. The average age for the alleged Ponzi schemers was approximately 47. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Glenn Arcaro, 45, of California, was sentenced to 38 months in prison in connection with the BitConnect cryptocurrency scheme. He fraudulently marketed the scheme that defrauded at least 4,500 people and involved $2.4 billion. Arcaro promised guaranteed returns from BitConnect’s “Trading Bot” and “Volatility Software.” BitConnect’s founder, Satish Kumbhani of India, was indicted earlier this year. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

August 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for August 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 4 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 1 guilty plea, more than 71 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 51 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Gino Accettola, 55, was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in prison in connection with a scheme in which 17 people were defrauded out of over $4 million. He promised investors high short-term returns from investments in supposed commercial construction projects in Michigan and Florida. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

July 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for July 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 3 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 2 guilty pleas, more than 53 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 47 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Paulette Carpoff, 48, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $661 million in restitution in connection with the scheme run with her husband, Jeff Carpoff, through DC Solar. Jeff Carpoff was previously sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay $790.6 million in restitution. DC Solar manufactured solar generator units to be mounted on trailers, but generators were sold that did not exist.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Cryptocurrency in Bankruptcy: Breaking It Into Small Bytes

By Kathy Bazoian Phelps

July 24, 2022

This article covers the Who, What, Where and Hows of issues arising when cryptocurrency lands in a bankruptcy proceeding, with a particular focus on cryptocurrency exchanges and investment funds. Those who think they own the cryptocurrency reflected on their monthly statements may want to keep reading to learn how to assess the risks associated with those exchanges and investments.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

June 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for June 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 6 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, one guilty plea, more than 50 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 53 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for May 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 12 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 convictions, 2 guilty pleas, more than 64 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 54 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

April 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for April 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 8 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 guilty pleas, more than 39 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 49 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

March 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for March 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 15 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 4 guilty pleas, more than 30 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 56 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

February 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for February 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 guilty pleas, nearly 54 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 53 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Monday, January 31, 2022

January 2022 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for January 2022. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 guilty pleas, more than 48 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 47 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Friday, December 31, 2021

December 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for December 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 2 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 4 guilty pleas, more than 48 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 46 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for November 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 3 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 1 guilty plea, more than 116 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 45 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

October 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for October 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 8 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 1 guilty plea, more than 78 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 55 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

September 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for September 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 8 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 6 guilty pleas, more than 67 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 50 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for August 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 4 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 guilty pleas, more than 32 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 57 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

July 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for July 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 5 guilty pleas, more than 72 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 52 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

George S. Blankenbaker Jr., 56, was sentenced to 5 years in prison in connection with a fraudulent scheme run through his companies, three business entities, Stargrower Commercial Bridge Loan Fund 1 LLC, Stargrower Asset Management LLC and EDU Holding Trust. More than 100 individuals invested more than $10 million in the scheme that supposedly needed funds to finance the use of shipping containers of food. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for June 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 9 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 2 guilty pleas, more than 34 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 46 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Lee Anglin, 50, was sentenced to 6 months in prison. He had been released from prison three years ago after serving 12 of his 15-year prison sentence for a $10 million real estate Ponzi scheme. He was sentenced again for after violating the terms of his probation by engaging in new money-making schemes that included providing legal services for inmates even though he isn’t a lawyer and negotiating to buy two businesses in Utah.

Monday, May 31, 2021

May 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for May 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 4 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 1 guilty plea, about 77 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 55 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Ted Brent Alexander, 55, and Jon Darrell Seawright, 49, of Mississippi, were indicted on charges relating to the $100 million scheme run through Madison Timber Properties LLC that was owned by Arthur Lamar Adams. The two solicited over $20 million from more than 50 investors in connection with the scheme. The scheme promised guaranteed returns to investors who thought they were lending money to a broker enterprise purchasing timber that was then to be marketed to multiple lumber mills.

Friday, April 30, 2021

April 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for April 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 4 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 guilty pleas, about 22 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 49 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

George S. Blankenbaker Jr., 54, of Indianapolis was charged and agreed to plead guilty in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme run through Stargrower Commercial Bridge Loan Fund 1 LLC, Stargrower Asset Management LLC, and EDU Holding Trust. Blankenbaker is the president of Stevia Corp. About 109 people invested more than $11 million in the scheme and were told that their funds would be used to finance the use of shipping containers of food in the international consumer products market. Blankenbaker instead diverted funds for personal expenses and unrelated business ventures. A total of over $1.4 million was lost by 34 investors. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for March 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 guilty pleas, about 50 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 47 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Jose Angel Aman, 51, of Florida, the co-founder of Argyle Coin, was banned from the securities industry but also released from an obligation to pay a $4.5 million fine to the SEC after more than $23.8 million was paid to the SEC in restitution in a parallel case. Aman operated three successive Ponzi schemes and was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 2019.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

February 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for February 2021. The reported stories reflect at least 3 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 1 guilty plea, over 62 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 51 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Edison Denizard, 41, of Florida, was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in connection with a music concert scheme. Denizard, along with his co-conspirator, Andres Fernandez, represented that investor funds would be used for specific music concerts by top artists. Victims lost about $7.5 million in the scheme. Fernandez previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for January 2021. The reported stories reflect at least  3 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 4 guilty pleas, 16 years of prison sentences and one life sentence, and an average age of approximately 51 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Stacey L. Bean, 35, and Travis Laska, 26, were fined $7,500 each in connection with their role with the VisionQuest Wealth Management LLC Ponzi scheme run by Stephen C. Peters. They were accused of assisting in a fraudulent offering of $10.1 million in promissory notes. Peters also owned VisionQuest Capital LLC and VQ Wealth LLC.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for December 2020. The reported stories reflect at least  3 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 3 guilty pleas, over 30 years of prison sentences and one life sentence, and an average age of approximately 56 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Sanjeev Acharya, of California, and his company SiliconSage Builders LLC aka Silicon Sage Builders, were charged by the SEC with running an alleged $119.2 million Ponzi scheme. The scheme promised returns to investors of 23% per year. Silicon Sage financed real estate projects in northern California by selling promissory notes and membership interests in entities that loaned money to the projects. The scheme targeted the South Asian community in northern California.

Monday, November 30, 2020

November 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Below is a summary of the activity reported for November 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 9 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 1 guilty plea, over 34 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 60 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Joseph S. Anile II, 56, was sentenced to 10 years and prison and ordered to pay $3.2 million in restitution in connection with the Oasis International Group Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of $72 million. The scheme involved foreign exchange trading that defrauded at least 700 investors. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

October 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for October 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 9 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 6 guilty pleas, 202 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 51 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.   

Steven F. Brown, 52, an accountant in California, agreed to plead guilty to charges that he ran a $3.3 million Ponzi scheme that promised investors returns from foreign exchange currency. Brown ran the scheme through Alpha Trade Analytics Inc. and promised investors monthly returns of around 10%.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for September 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 11 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 4 guilty pleas, 31 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 59 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.   

Joseph Frank Abel, 50, of California, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with a cryptocurrency mining fraud that involved at least $722 million. Abel admitted that he sold unregistered securities for BitClub Network. Matthew Brent Goettsche, Russ Albert Medlin, Jobadiah Sinclair Weeks were also charged in connection with the scheme. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

August 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for August 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 9 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 2 guilty pleas, 55 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 56 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.
   
Clarence Dean Alford, 67, was charged by the SEC for allegedly defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme run through Allied Energy Services, LLC. The scheme involved at least 100 investors out of about $23 million, promising them returns of 12% to 34% from investments in energy projects.

Friday, July 31, 2020

July 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps
Below is a summary of the activity reported for July 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 10 new Ponzi schemes worldwide, 5 guilty pleas, 95 years of prison sentences, and an average age of approximately 54 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.
   
Gregory Altieri, 53, the president of LNA Associates, was charged in New York with running a Ponzi scheme that took in between $75 million and $85 million from more than 80 investors. Altieri promised investors a 30% to 70% return within months from nonexistence wholesale jewelry deals where he would supposedly buy jewelry at closeout prices and resell it at a high profit.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of the activity reported for June 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 8 new Ponzi schemes worldwide and an average age of approximately 55 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.

Timothy J. Allcott, 58, and Thomas D. Renison, were charged in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme run through ARO Equity LLC. In a parallel proceeding commenced by the SEC, it was alleged that Allcott and Renison raised more than $6 million from at least 15 investors, promising interest payments between 8% and 12% per year.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

May 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Below is a summary of the activity reported for May 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide; at least 2 guilty pleas and convictions; and an average age of approximately 59 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.
   
Neil Burkholz, 82, and Frank Bianco, 70, of Florida, were ordered to pay $2.8 million in disgorgement and penalties in connection with a $6 million Ponzi scheme run through Palm Financial Management and Shore Management Systems. The scheme defrauded at least 55 investors and targeted elderly investors.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

April 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Below is a summary of the activity reported for April 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide; at least 3 guilty pleas and convictions; new prison sentences of 39 years; and an average age of approximately 59 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.
   
Blessing Loom, an alleged Ponzi scheme, has resurfaced in Utah. The scheme, promoted on social media, displays an octagon that must be filled with names of participants. It promises that if the investor pays $100 to get a spot and recruits other people, then the investor name makes it to the center of the octagon, and will be paid $800.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Below is a summary of the activity reported for March 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 7 new Ponzi schemes worldwide; at least 4 guilty pleas and convictions; and an average age of approximately 53 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.
   
Stacey L. Beane, 35, Justin N. Deckert, 30, and Travis Laska, 26, were accused by the SEC of helping to hide a Ponzi scheme run through VisonQuest Wealth Management LLC. The three were employees of VisionQuest and are accused of assisting in a fraudulent offering of $10.1 million in promissory notes. Stephen C. Peters was the owner and principle of VisionQuest, and he also owned VisionQuest Capital LLC and VQ Wealth LLC.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Should Bernie Madoff go free?


Bernie Madoff, currently serving his 150-year prison term, is seeking a compassionate release due to what is described as terminal kidney failure and less than 18 months to live. We are interested in your views on whether Madoff should be released after having served 11 of the 150 year sentence.  Click the link below to express your views on the following poll:

Saturday, February 29, 2020

February 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Below is a summary of the activity reported for February 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide; at least 5 guilty pleas and convictions; over 19 years of newly imposed sentences for people involved in Ponzi schemes; and an average age of approximately 51 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.

Friday, January 31, 2020

January 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup


Below is a summary of the activity reported for January 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide; at least 5 guilty pleas and convictions, over 24 years of newly imposed sentences for people involved in Ponzi schemes; and an average age of approximately 52 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.
   
Malik Akbar’El aka Tyrone David Williams aka Skipper David Williams, 52, of Arkansas, was accused of running a Ponzi scheme. He ran the alleged scheme through Akbar Williams & Associates Legal Services Corporation and promised 300% to 480% returns from supposed investments in charities and organizations that would generate a profit. He allegedly defrauded 252 investors.