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

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

May 2023 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of Ponzi scheme activity reported for May 2023. Ponzi scheme activity levels were higher this month with 16 new Ponzi schemes hitting the news. The new schemes involved over $200,000,000 of investor dollars. Over 33 years of prison sentences were imposed on Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Brett M. Bartlett was charged in connection with an alleged scheme run through 7M E-Group and Dynasty Toys that involved $20.5 million. Bartlett was also sued along with his father-in-law, Scott Miller, by the SEC in connection with the scheme. Bartlett and Miller sold promissory notes, stocks and fraudulent gold contracts to more than 1,000 investors, many of whom attended a large church in Illinois. They claimed that they needed funds to purchase inventory they were confident they could sell by Christmas, and they offered 8% to 20% returns to investors. 

Wynn A.D. Charlebois, 52, faced new charges in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that ran from 2015 to 2022.  The scheme involved $6.9 million, and at least 39 investors were promised returns from investments through his companies, including WC Private, Wilcox Hybrid, and Damon Investments.

Derek Vincent Chu, 41, of California, was indicted on charges relating to an alleged $39 million Ponzi scheme. The scheme involved over 100 victims who were defrauded in a scheme involving the purchase and resale of professional basketball tickets and luxury suites at arenas for the Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors. The scheme ran from 2013 to 2020. Chu diverted more than $7.3 million for his own benefit to pay for travel, a luxury car, and jewelry.

Phillip Galles, 57, of Chicago, was arrested on charges that he ran a scheme that took in more than $6 million from more than 50 investors with promises of returns that exceeded 200%. The CFTC also filed charges relating to Galles’ investment program run through Tyche Asset Management. Galles misrepresented to investors that he had about $2 billion under management and that a Kuwaiti sovereign-wealth fund was interested in investing in the hedge fund.

Shawn Edward Good of Delaware was sentenced to 7 years and 3 months in prison and ordered to pay $3.61 million in restitution in connection with a Ponzi scheme that took in more than $7 million. Good is a former financial advisor who used his role to take advantage of at least 12 clients. He promised returns of between 6% and 10% over three- or six-month terms for investments in purported real estate projects and tax-free municipal bonds.

Cedric Dewayne Griffin, of Florida, defrauded 103 investors out of about $5.9 million in a real estate scheme he ran through his company, Premier Coast Realty. Griffin used some of the money for his own benefit and paid earlier investors purported returns in a Ponzi-like fashion. 

Chimene Van Gundy, 46, Outstanding Real Estate Solutions, Inc., and its salespeople, Michael Trofimoff, Santos Kidd, and Maria Tosta, were sued by the SEC on allegations that they were running an investment scheme involving $18.5 million and at least 600 investors. The scheme promised returns from investments in the purchase, refurbish, and resale of mobile homes. Gundy is the self-proclaimed “Queen of Mobile Homes” although she did not actually own the hundreds of mobile homes as represented. Outstanding Real Estate Solutions made Ponzi-like payments to investors.

Rolf Max Hirschman and Patrick Earl Williams aka BigRigBaby, and their company Integrated National Resources, Inc. dba WeedGenics, were shut down by the SEC in what is alleged as a Ponzi-like scheme involving $60 million and about 350 investors. They promised investors guaranteed returns of 36% from the expansion of their cannabis operations and the WeedGenics facilities. In reality, there were no such facilities. Hirschman and Williams instead spent the money on dining, adult entertainment, jewelry, luxury cars, and residential real estate.

Charles Thomas Lawrence Jr., of Connecticut, was sued by the SEC on allegations that he and his associates were running a $5 million Ponzi scheme. Lawrence ran the scheme through a fake Swedish financial services company called Compagnie Trust Privé KB, and he promised investors weekly returns of 25% to 100%. He created a fake web-portal to show investments and returns. Lawrence misappropriated at least $4.8 million from 11 investors and spent the money at Cartier and to charter jets and for international travel.

John Quadrino of New York was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison and ordered to pay $3.3 million in restitution in connection with a Ponzi scheme run through Princess Cut Industries, Inc., Sassy Jewelry Buyers, Inc., and Golden Glitter Trading Inc. Investors were promised returns from the sale of gold, jewelry and diamonds to refineries and jewelers. The scheme ran for five years, brought in $13.1 million, and caused losses of about $3.3 million. 

Thomas D. Renison, 69, of Connecticut, was sentenced to four years in prison, and Timothy J. Allcott, 65, of Massachusetts, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison in connection with a scheme that took in over $6 million from 2015 to 2018. The scheme was run through ARO Equity LLC, and investors were promised returns from investments in three different businesses. 

Chander Singh, of New Jersey, was sentenced to 8 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he ran a Ponzi scheme through his investment firm, SC Capital Investors LLC. The scheme started in at least 2014 and ran for about 5 years, defrauding victims out of about $4.7 million. Co-conspirator Chandrika Basil Singh pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. The criminal case of Shelly Singh-Camargo is still pending. Singh rolled losses from a prior investment firm, FC Investments, which was also a failed distressed property flipping business.  

Phillip Roy Wasserman, 66, of Florida, was convicted on charges relating to a Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims out of $6 million through a life insurance start up known as FastLife. Co-defendant Kenneth Rossman pleaded guilty in 2021. The FastLife product was described on Wasserman’s LinkedIn page as a “crazy fast” way for people to purchase life insurance from “highly rated insurance companies.” Investors in the startup were guaranteed an annual return of 10% to 12%. 



Linda Anne Marissen was charged with assisting in the alleged $250 million Ponzi scheme run by Chris Marco. The scheme allegedly defrauded six investors out of about $30 million. Marissen was Marco’s executive assistant.


Ecoplexus Investment Group, an online scam, imploded after having spread rapidly through social media. The scheme promised exorbitant returns – as much as 1,544% returns per year – and was based on misrepresentations that victims’ funds would be invested in products of Ecoplexus, a real US company which specializes in the development, design, construction, and financing of renewable energy projects in the US and key international markets.


Christopher Toynton, 73, and Ross Gibson, 27, were sentenced 4½ years and four years five months, respectively, for running a Ponzi scheme though the Lottery Syndicate Club. The scheme was operated between 2017 and 2019 and took in about £4 million.  

Anthony Constantinou, 41, was convicted and found guilty on charges relation to a $62 million Ponzi scheme ran through Capital World Markets. Constantinou had skipped bail, but the trial continued in his absence. Constantinou had offered a 5% monthly return on investments in foreign exchange. Capital World Markets operated from 2014 to 2015, and funds were received from more than 250 investors. Their funds were not, however, actually invested in foreign exchange investments.

New Zealand

Thomas Alexander Kokouri Tuira aka Alex Tuira, and Aroha Awhinanui Tuiri, were charged in connection with an alleged $4.1 million Ponzi scheme run through Ngākau Aroha Investments Ltd and Power To Me Aotearoa Tapui Ltd. The scheme involved two funds and financial literacy training. More than 60 investors were defrauded.


Pattanapon Kunjara Na Ayudhaya (“DJ Man”) and Suteewan Taweesin (“Baitoey”), along with Chatchai Kochatin, Teepatsakorn Kimwangtako, Suranat Narkmusik and Aryuwat Chaimethanarakul, were arrested on charges relating to the Forex-3D Ponzi scheme. The Forex-3D investment scheme was created by a brokerage company, RMS Familia, established in 2015 and run by Apiruk Kothi

Wantanee Tippaveth and her husband Methi Chinpa aka Boss Chinnapa, and nine others were found guilty of running a Ponzi scheme known as the Mae Manee Ponzi scheme.  They defrauded victims through a loan scam promising returns of 93% and causing total losses of 1.37 billion baht (approximately $51.3 million) to 2,533 people. Tippaveth and Chinpa were each sentenced to 12,640 years in jail, but the sentences were commuted to 5,056 years by the Criminal Court. The couple is expected to be in jail for just 20 years under the law of Thailand which limits jail time to 20 years.

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