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

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.

Celsius Network LLC filed for bankruptcy amidst lawsuits alleging that the company was running a Ponzi scheme. The lawsuits allege that the crypto lender artificially inflated the price of its own digital coin and offered large interest rates to attract new investors when it had a cash crunch. Celsius filed for bankruptcy after freezing customer funds last month. Celsius supposedly made money by lending to institutional borrowers at higher interest rates than it offered for deposits. Alexander Mashinsky and other Celius executives have been accused of enriching themselves at the customers’ expense.  A former employee has sued the company for manipulating the cryptocurrency markets.

Mark and Sharon Dente were sued by the state of Ohio on allegations that they ran a Ponzi scheme. The scheme was a house-flipping business through EM Capital Fund and allegedly defrauded more than 90 investors out of $53.1 million. Investors were promised returns as high as 36% over 9 months.

Matthew Eckstein, 52, of New York, was sentenced to 10½ years in prison in connection with a $12 million Ponzi scheme. Eckstein previously pleaded guilty to the scheme run through Conmac Funding Corp that targeted nearly 50 victims. Eckstein was a CPA and financial advisor who used his role to defraud mostly elderly victims into investing in Conmac owned by Kevin Brody. Eckstein and Brody used the stolen funds to invest in other business enterprises, for personal purchases, and for a down payment on a home. Brody was previously sentenced to 7 years in prison. 

Jordan E. Goodman, 67, marketed as “America’s Money Answers Man” was charged by the SEC in connection with advising people to invest in the Woodbridge Group Ponzi scheme. The scheme, run by Robert Shapiro, lured in investors in a real estate scheme that involved $1.2 billion. Goodman helped Woodbridge raise $147 million from 1,200 investors. 

Patrick O. Howard, 50, of Texas, was ordered to pay back $2.8 million in connection with a scheme that defrauded more than 100 investors. Howard previously pleaded guilty to the scheme that promised investors a 12% return. 

Ruja Ignatova, 42, was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List with a $100,000 reward. Ignatova, a Bulgarian women known as the “Queen of Cryptography,” is wanted in connection with the One Coin cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme. Ignatova and her co-conspirators raised at least $3.4 billion in connection with the scheme, seeking to replace bitcoin as the world’s leading cryptocurrency. Her brother, Konstantin Ignatov, was arrested in Los Angeles in 2019 and pleaded guilty to related charges. Another partner, Sebastian Greenwood, was detained in Thailand in 2018 and sent to the U.S. where he remains in prison awaiting trial. Mark Scott, a U.S. lawyer, was convicted in 2019 on charges relating to the washing of $400 million for the group.

Justin Kimbrough, 25, of Texas was charged by the SEC on allegations related to a scheme run with Terry Nikopoulos and his company, TKJ Investments Corp. The scheme was supposedly a real estate wholesale business, and at least $3 million was obtained from at least 31 investors. Funds were also placed into Preeminent Trade Group Inc, a company specializing in selling medical equipment for resale in India. Kimbrough was criminally indicted last month. Authorities alleged that Kimbrough wired some investor funds his business, Prosperity Consultants, LLC.

Jason “Lottery Lawyer” Kurland was found guilty in connection with an $80 million scheme in which he misappropriated his clients’ lottery jackpots. Kurland steered his clients to invest in companies that he secretly owned and took kickbacks without their knowledge. Kurland stole $100 million from a $245 million Powerball jackpot winner and funds from a $150 million jackpot winner and others. 

Marco Perez Jr. aka Sully Perez, 37, of Texas, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $14.5 million in restitution in connection with the Ponzi scheme run through Permian Basis Proppants, Inc. Perez promised returns to investors from the purchase of frac sand at a discount and the resale to fracking operations in and around the Permian Basin. Perez used the funds for his personal expenses, paying for property, vacations, luxury vehicles, a helicopter, and a lavish wedding. 

Gilbert J. Peter Jr., 62, was arrested on allegations that he stole millions of dollars in connection with a clinic called My Doc Urgent Care and Doctor Doctor.

David Saffron, 49, was charged with running an alleged cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme through Circle Society. Saffron allegedly misrepresented to investors that he generated profits by using a trading bot that could execute over 17,000 transactions per hour on various cryptocurrency exchanges. He also falsely represented that his trading bot would generate between 500% to 600% returns on the amount invested.

Jon Seawright, 50, pleaded guilty in connection with his role in the timber Ponzi scheme ran by Arthur Lamar Adams through Madison Timber Properties LLC. Seawright admitted that he and a co-conspirator participated in the scheme and represented to investors that they were in the business of loaning funds to buy timber rights from landowners and then sell those rights to lumber mills at a higher price. Seawright operated an investment company, Alexander Seawright LLC, with Brent Alexander. Adams was sentenced to 19½ years in prison in 2018.

Jeremy Spence, 25, was sentenced to 42 months in prison in connection with the Coin Signals Ponzi scheme. Coin Signals defrauded more than 170 people in a cryptocurrency scheme involving more than $5 million. 

Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, and Mirror Trading International Proprietary Limited, were charged by the CFTC with running a fraudulent commodity pool worth more than $1.7 billion in bitcoin. Mirror Trading is a South African company that solicited bitcoin from thousands of people, including 23,000 Americans. 

Le Anh Tuan, 26, a Vietnamese national, was charged in connection with an alleged cryptocurrency-related fraud involving the Baller Ape NFT. Tuan was involved with the Baller Ape Club, a supposed NFT investment project. In a “rug pull,” the website was deleted after the first day and $2.6 million of investor funds went missing. A blockchain analysis revealed that the investor funds were laundered through “chain-hopping” where one type of coin is converted to another type and funds are moved across multiple cryptocurrency blockchains to obscure the trail of the funds.

Tyler Tysdal, 51, was sentenced to 6 years in prison in connection with a $46 million Ponzi scheme. The scheme ran for a decade and defrauded about 77 investors. Tysdal pleaded guilty last year. Co-conspirator, Grant Carter, 51, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 4 years in prison. The scheme was run through Cobalt Sports Capital, which purported to make short-terms, high-interest loans to startup companies, and a second scheme promised returns of 10 to 15 times their principal investment from investments in a wine distributor.



Chris Marco, 63, was charged in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that defrauded over $36 million from at least 9 investors between 2013 and 2018, and $250 million for over 300 investors over a 20-year period. The scheme was run through AMS Holdings (WA) Pty Ltd.  Marco disputes the charges. 


Joshua James Tenhove, 49, was sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to pay $3.3 million in restitution. Tenhove previously pleaded guilty to a Ponzi scheme that took in $10 million from investors to buy light towers so they could be rented to customers.


Authorities attached properties held in the name of Dreamz Infra India Ltd, TGS Constructions Pvt Ltd, Disha Choudhary, and Mandeep Kaur, in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme.


JuicyFields is accused of running a Ponzi scheme which may be the largest such scam in the cannabis industry. The cannabis investment platform promised returns between 6% and 14% from investments in cannabis plants. The scam operated worldwide and allegedly involved hundreds of millions of dollars. JuicyFields stopped operations in July, froze cash withdrawals, removed profiles from social media, and disappeared.

South Korea

Officials raided at least 7 cryptocurrency exchanges as part of an investigation of Terraform Labs, including Upbit, Bithumb, and Coinone. Terraform collapsed earlier this year.


Bamise Samson Ajetunmobi and Elizabeth Anuoluwapo Ajetunmobi have been ordered to pay N18.8 billion to 27 defrauded investors in connection with a scheme that promised 10% monthly returns. The scheme was run through Imagine Global Holding Company Ltd and Imagine Global Solutions Limited and supposedly offered microloans to small and medium-sized companies and low-income workers in Africa.

Amanda Chisom was arrested in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme run by Marksman Chinedu Ijeoma aka Chinmark. The scheme involved N50 billion.


Authorities revoked the corporate registration of Wellcons Unlimited Systems Inc. in connection with its “double-your-money” program called Binary System. Investors were told they could double their money in 6 months. 

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