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

Friday, June 30, 2023

June 2023 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps 

Below is a summary of Ponzi scheme activity reported for June 2023. Seventeen new Ponzi schemes came to light this month, involving over $1 billion of investor dollars. Over 62 years of prison sentences were imposed on Ponzi schemers, and there were at least 4 guilty pleas and one criminal conviction. The average age of the fraudsters was about 51 years old. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Wilson Baston aka William Baston aka Chanon Gordon aka Jackie Wilson, 62, of New York was sued by the SEC in connection with an alleged real estate Ponzi scheme. Baston had previously pleaded guilty in 2008 to defrauding hundreds of investors in a Ponzi scheme and was released from prison in 2017. Shortly after his release, he began using aliases, including Chanon Gordon to run a new Ponzi scheme in the real estate industry run through Gordon Management Group LLC. He promised returns within days or weeks along with a fee that could equal as much as 25% of the investment. 

Wendy Beard, 58, of Michigan, was accused of running an alleged Ponzi scheme that defrauded art collectors out of $1.6 million worth of artwork. Beard ran Wendy Halsted Gallery and accepted payments for artworks that were never delivered.

Ray Holcomb Brewer, 66, of California, was sentenced to 6 years and 9 months in prison for his role in operating an $8.75 million Ponzi scheme in which he claimed he could turn cow manure into green energy. He claimed his business, CH4 Power, built anaerobic digesters on dairy farms that would turn biodegradable material into methane. Brewer promised returns of 66% and tax incentives. 

Tyler Campbell, INR Consulting LLC, Hidden Springs Holdings Group LLC, Michael Delgado, Total Solution Construction LLC, Bagpipe Holdings LLC, and Bagpipe Multimedia LLC were all subject to an asset freeze and injunction. The SEC named the parties as relief defendants as they allegedly received funds for primary defendants Integrated National Resources Inc. dba WeedGenics, Patrick Earl Williams, and Rolf Max Hirschmann. The SEC has alleged that they were running a $60 million Ponzi scheme.

Yossi Engel was ordered to disgorge ill-gotten gains from a $47 million Ponzi scheme he ran that targeted the Orthodox Jewish community. The scheme was run through iWitness Tech LLC. Investors were promised returns from the purchase and installation of security cameras by Engel on behalf of his clients. 

Bruce Ford, 50, of Indiana, was sentenced to 4 years and 3 months in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme involving $1.2 million. Ford was a licensed insurance broker who encouraged his clients to cash out their retirement accounts and invest in real estate and business ventures. He used the money for his personal expenses. 

Cedric Dewayne Griffin was charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that targeted members of the African-American community in Florida. The scheme raised $5.9 million from at least 103 investors through a fraudulent securities offering in which he offered promissory notes issues by his companies G8 Equity LLC and G8 RE Capital LLC. Griffin offered monthly returns ranging from 10% to 33%. 

Marlin Hershey, 53, and Dana Bradley, 53, of North Carolina, pleaded guilty to charges relating to a Ponzi scheme run through Performance Retire on Rentals and Distressed Lending Fund.  The scheme ran for 12 years.

William Koo Ichioka, 30, was charged by the CFTC, the SEC, and the US Attorneys Office in connection with an alleged $21 million cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme run through Ichioka Ventures LLC. He promised 10% returns every 30 business days and guaranteed investors’ principal. Approximately 75 investors were defrauded in California and Oregon.

Kevin Kang, of Florida, and BKCoin Management LLC were sued by the SEC in connection with an alleged crypto asset fraud scheme. BKCoin had raised around $100 million from 55 investors between 2018 and 2022 to supposedly invest in crypto assets. The complaint also names Bison Digital LLC as a relief defendant.

Brian Lee Kissinger, 53, and Kenny Rojas, 45, of California, pleaded guilty to charges relating to a scheme run through Aria Management Group. They recruited victims to invest in buying liens on distressed properties. The scheme involved losses of over $1.4 million. 

Jason Kurland, 49, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in connection with a $100 million Ponzi scheme. Kurland was a lottery lawyer who steered his clients who had won large jackpots into investment schemes run by co-conspirators and into his own companies. The other defendants are Christopher Chierchio, 52, Frangesco “Frankie” Russo, 38, and Francis “Frank” Smookler, 45.

Jeffrey Lash, 54, pleaded guilty to charges relating to the Ponzi scheme run through GPB Capital Holdings. The scheme, run by GPB founder David Gentile, defrauded 17,000 investors out of $1.8 billion.

William Logsdon, 54, was convicted on charges relation to a Ponzi scheme run with his mother-in-law, Jamie Thompson, through National Royalty Group. They promised returns from investments in the purchase of royalty interests in various oil, gas and mineral projects in Texas and New Mexico. Victims were defrauded out of more than $1,500,000.

Billy Marcum Jr. was sentenced to nearly 17½ years in prison and ordered to pay more than $16.6 million in restitution for his role in a $25 million Ponzi scheme that caused losses of more than $13 million. The oil and gas leasing scheme defrauded more than 120 investors. Marcum owned several companies, including Viejo Services, Navarro Minerals, and the Caslin Group.

Miles Burton Marshall was accused of running a Ponzi scheme that brought in about $90 million from hundreds of investors. Marshall promised returns of 8% and represented that he was making profits from real estate investments. 

McClain Farms, 7M Cattle Feeders Inc., McClain Feed Yard Inc., and the estate of Brian McClain, the farm's owner who passed away in April 2023, were accused of running a Ponzi scheme involving more than $122 million in cattle operations. Some investors were guaranteed returns of 30%.

Surage Kamal Roshan Perera and his firm, Janues Capital Incorporated, were charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme. Perera represented that he had access to restricted securities at a discounted price through connections with institutional investors. He guaranteed returns of up to 9% and said he used a trading strategy called Options Straddles. Perera misappropriated at least $3.3 million of out the $4.3 million he raised. 

Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves were ordered to disgorge about $32.2 million and to pay penalties and interest totaling another $13.7 million in connection with the crypto hedge fund EmpiresX. The two had fled the country and did not respond to the SEC’s complaint that had also named the head trader, Joshua David Nichols. The cryptocurrency scheme raised funds totaling about $40 million based on falsified claims about a proprietary trading bot that would generate returns. 

Darren Anthony Robinson, 53, was charged in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of $100 million. The scheme was run through QYU Holdings, a foreign exchange trading firm, which was located in Panama and Cayman Islands. Investors were guaranteed returns of 3% per month and that the firm only paid on trading profits. 

Sanjay Singh, 43, of Florida, was charged in connection with an alleged $112 million Ponzi scheme run through Royal Bengal Logistics, Inc. Royal Bengal was represented to be a successful trucking business while the company was actually losing money. Singh and his co-conspirators raised funds from investors and promised guaranteed returns from 12.5% to 325% from high-yield investment programs. Investors were told that their funds would be used for business expansion and enhancing their fleet of trucks and trailers. The scheme targeted the Haitian-American community and defrauded as many as 1,500 investors out of about $70 million. Singh allegedly misappropriated millions of dollars to renovate his home, make mortgage payments, and pay other personal expenses.

Josh S. Verne was charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged $30 million Ponzi scheme. The scheme defrauded more than 100 investors through his online rent-to-own business Ownable, LLC, Ownable Capital Partners I, LLC, and three limited liability companies. Verne allegedly used at least $9.3 million of investor funds for his own benefit.

Stephen Keith Woodard Sr. was charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that raised approximately $6 million from more than two dozen victims. Woodard ran the scheme from 2016 to mid-2021 by offering promissory notes issues by Morganwood Ltd. He claimed he had a risk-free trading strategy that preserved capital but instead had mounting trading losses.



Michael Dunjey and his company Ascent Investment and Coaching were accused of running a Ponzi scheme that involved $150 million.


Greg Martel was suspended by authorities in connection with a $226 million Ponzi scheme that he ran through Shop Your Own Mortgage.


Anthony Constantinou aka Antonis Hadjicostis and Georgios Arnaoutakis, 41, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in his absence in connection with a £70 million Ponzi scheme run through Capital World Markets. He promised returns of 60% per year on risk-free foreign exchange markets. A total of 312 investors were defrauded.

Liam Francis Wainwright, 62, was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years in prison in connection with a £20 million Ponzi scheme run through Rawdon Asset Finance Ltd. Wainwright represented that he was using investor funds to lend to businesses with security on property, land or plant and equipment, but was actually using the money on ventures including a racehorse syndicate and failed private businesses.


Phylicia Jailim was accused of operating a Ponzi scheme involving more than $228 million. She defrauded investors by representing that she was the Chief Executive Officer of Dream Chasers, which borrows money from investors and lends the money to government contractors and farmers who are having financial problems. She promised returns of 5% to 20% per week. 


Authorities ordered Casa Infini Builders and Realty Co Ltd., Ray Education Directions Consultancy Services, Casa Infini Realty Management Co Ltd and Ray International Philippines Corp. to cease operations. The alleged fraudulent scheme promised returns from real estate projects and guaranteed income. 

PetroMobil Corporation was charged in connection with an alleged scheme in which investors were promised high returns from investments in gas stations and unregistered securities.

South Africa

Khongetela Raymond Mabasa, 48, and Ivan Mogane, 42, were arrested in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme. 

Willem Theron aka Ariel aka Adrian is wanted in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme known as Love and Lets Live.

South Korea

Authorities detained two individuals in connection with an alleged $350 million cryptocurrency scam that defrauded 435 users. The scheme promised returns of 3% to 16% in a matter of weeks. 


A nun known as “Pattana”, 62, was arrested in connection with her involvement in an alleged Ponzi scheme. The scheme solicited investment in a cloud storage company and promised high returns. Over 1.3 billion baht were invested in the scheme.


Yinghe Chen, a Chinese national, was detained after being on the run since last year. Chen is accused of running a Ponzi scheme through BLQ, a sports betting company in which Ugandans have lost billions of shillings.