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

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

January 2023 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Below is a summary of the activity reported for January 2023.

The start of 2023 saw at least 7 new Ponzi schemes reported worldwide, and at least 7 new criminal sentences were imposed for a total of about 32 years. There was also 1 guilty pleas and 3 criminal convictions. The average age for the alleged Ponzi schemers was approximately 49. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Gregory Altieri, 55, was ordered to pay $23 million to the SEC in connection with a Ponzi scheme that raised almost $70 million from at least 80 investors, most of whom were firefighters and police officers.  The scheme promised returns ranging from 30% to 100% from a jewelry business. 

Charles Richard Burgess aka Dick Burgess, 67, of Vancouver, was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 32 investors out of $4.3 million. Burgess had pleaded guilty, selling 64 investors $13.6 million in unregistered investments. He took more than the 50% of the pool profits that he represented was his fee, but tried to blame COVID-19 for the loss of funds.

Carl Carro, 62, and James Doyle, 74, were sentenced in connection with a Ponzi scheme run through Endeavor Management Solutions and Endeavor Consultancy. Carro was sentenced to 4 to 8 years and Doyle to 5 years’ probation. They took in over $1,000,000 from more than 50 investors. Endeavor was supposedly a headhunting firm hired by prestigious clients to find candidates for openings on their boards of directors. Carro and Doyle represented that the investor funds would be held in an untouched cash reserve account that held over $1 million, and investors were guaranteed a 10% to 20% return after 30 days. They spent over $500,000 of the funds on personal expenses and to pay returns to earlier investors. 

Yossi Engel, 35, of California, was sued by the SEC on allegations that he ran a $47 million Ponzi scheme through iWitness Tech LLC that targeted Orthodox Jewish community members from December 2018 to January 2021. Engel represented that he needed capital for his business installing security cameras and that investors would receive returns form fees generated by the business. iWitness was never profitable and only ever brought in about $20,000. Engel admitted to running a Ponzi scheme in 2021 and then fled to Israel. Engel spent the funds at casinos, flying on private jets, and funding a lavish lifestyle.

Arley Ray Johnson, 63, of Maryland, was sentenced to 6½ years in prison in connection with a $28 million Ponzi scheme involving 1st Million, a purported wealth management and financial literacy company. Johnson conspired with Dennis Mbongeni Jali, 37, and John Erasmus Frimpong, 42, to defraud investors through several related entities including The Smart Partners LLC, which did business as 1st Million Dollars or 1st Million. The scheme promised monthly returns ranging from 6% to 35%.

Katie Lynn Mancuso, 41, of Tennessee, was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison in connection with a $2.8 million scheme she ran through Gray Area Marketing. Mancuso had falsely represented that her agency had been awarded contracts to perform marketing services for professional athletes and she overstated Gray Area’s assets and receivables. She promised returns within 90 days of 15% to 25%. She solicited funds from at least 26 investors, causing total losses of more than $1.1 million. 

Robert Cortez Marshall, 43, was sentenced to 2 years and 10 months in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme run through R.B.J. Generational Wealth Management LLC dba Adz on Wheelz. The scheme solicited more than $5 million from more than 200 investors. Marshall represented that Adz on Wheelz owned and operated a fleet of luxury vehicles that could be customized for digital advertising and that the company received millions of dollars in contracts from advertisers. Investors were promised guaranteed weekly returns and told they could cancel anytime and receive a refund of their investment. 

Austin Danger Ellison-Meade, 24, was sued by the SEC on allegations that he defrauded 31 investors out of $2.8 million. Ellison-Meade represented he was using a proprietary trading algorithm that he developed and that he was the managing partner of an investment club and pooled investment vehicle called Baycap.io. The SEC alleges that Ellison-Meade did not use the funds to invest but represented to investors that “this year we have a projection of around 800% returns.” 

Kumar Arun Neppalli, 56, was indicted on 23 charges relating to an alleged Ponzi scheme that targeted the Indian American community in North Carolina. Neppalli, a native of India, allegedly defrauded 15 investors out of $1.9 million in connection with business loans and 12 investors out of $900,000 in a real estate development scheme in North Carolina.

Nestor Nuñez a/k/a Salvador Molina, 64, was arrested in Spain on fraud charges, and Ramon Perez, 40, surrendered in connection with an alleged cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme known as Forcount. Last month, criminal charges were brought against Francisley Da Silva, Juan Tacuri, and Antonia Perez Hernandez in connection with the scheme. The scheme was based in Brazil and defrauded Spanish-speaking investors. Perez is accused of laundering proceeds through shell companies and real estate. Nunez is accused of being an actor paid by Da Silva to present himself as Forcount’s CEO using the alias Salvador Molina. Jose Ramiro Coronado Reyes has also already been charged in connection with the scheme.

Judith Dianne Paris-Pinder, 49, of Florida, was sentenced to 4 years in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 500 people out of $2.4 million. Paris-Pinder was president of Pinder Associations Inc. and took in about $4.6 million from investors under the pretense that she represented litigation plaintiffs who had settled claims and were just awaiting payouts from insurance companies. Paris-Pinder solicited funds from “hard money lenders” to finance payments to the plaintiffs pending payment of the settlement checks, at which time she represented she could pay returns as high as 50%. She previously pleaded guilty and admitted that she did not work with lawyers and that there were no settlement agreements.

Abner Tinoco, 27, of Texas, pleaded guilty to charges relating to his operation of a Ponzi scheme. The scheme brought in about $9 million, and Tinoco spent about half of that on personal expenses including luxury cars, private jets, real estate, and jewelry. Tinoco represented that he would invest their funds in cryptocurrency and foreign exchange markets. The CFTC had previously reported that Tinoco misappropriated over $7.2 million from at least 322 investors.



MD Nurul Hague, Khagokpam Jogeshwari Devi, and Nongmaithem Sharmila Devi were found guilty of running a Ponzi scheme through MDFI. The mastermind’s father-in-law, Khagokpam Kham ba Singh, and brother-in-law, Khagokpam Naoba Singh, are also under investigation.

Authorities arrested Sanasam Jacky Singh, the managing director of Lamjingba Group of companies, in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme. The scheme allegedly took in more than Rs 580 crore with a promise of exorbitant returns.

Sheikh Sadiq Ali, Yogesh N., Pramod Gopinath, and Sunil Joshi were arrested in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme run through E-Biotorium Network Private Limited that received investment funds from over 1,000 customers. 


Authorities issued a warning against investing in Ground Zero Poultry Agricultural Corporation. The SEC warned that the company “is enticing the public to participate in its poultry farm pursuits” and stated that investors could invest P20,000 with 36% returns and up to 80% guaranteed returns for lockup periods of 6 months or 12 months.

The Securities and Exchange Commission shut down Silverloin Livestock Trading Corp. on allegations that it was running a Ponzi scheme. The scheme promised returns of 2.3% per day or 35% after 15 days. Criminal charges were filed in December 2022 against CEO Ryan Cagod Ladoing, Renan Lara Ladoing, Rosemarie Alvarez Guzman, Neña Ewayan Algoy, John Paul Dellara Lopez and Michael Villalobos Berja.


Daryl Cai Yonghui, 32, was arrested in Thailand in connection with the Forex-3D Ponzi scheme. The scheme defrauded thousands of investors out of more than $608 million. Dozens have been arrested in connection with the scheme, and Eddy Polgari is still at large. Forex-3D founder Apirak Kothi was arrested a year ago.

Ong Jian Zhen was arrested in Thailand and is wanted in Singapore in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme.


Police issued 11 arrest warrants in connection with the dietary supplement company Primaya, including for Pichnaree Tantiwit aka May Primaya, the CEO of Primaya. The charges related to wildly exaggerated advertisements for the investment scheme on TikTok and other social media platforms. The company claimed that investors could earn up to 15 million baht in 3 months from an investment of 6,000 baht.