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

Thursday, November 30, 2023

November 2023 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Below is a summary of Ponzi scheme activity reported for November 2023. Nine new Ponzi schemes hit the news this month and there were more than 35 years of prison sentences imposed on Ponzi schemers and 4 new guilty pleas. The average age of the fraudsters was about 43 years old. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Stanislav Bril, 40, aka Stan Bril aka Slava Bril of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to running a scheme that stole over $6 million of federal pandemic relief. The scheme was run through Mortgage Consultant Group and took in more than $1 million from investors, promising returns from loans on real estate and construction projects. Bril also fraudulently obtained funds from government programs through Mortgage Consultant Group as well as The Bril Group and SAB Services LLC.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis, 37, and Will Bynum, 40. were convicted in connection with a scheme that defrauded an insurance plan for NBA players and their families. Terrence Williams was sentenced in August to 10 years in prison as the ringleader of the scheme.

Maria Dulce Pino Dickerson and her business Creative Legal Services were sued by authorities in California accusing her of running a Ponzi scheme. Dickerson is alleged to have made misrepresentations to investors and targeted the Filipino community.

Irina Dilkinska, 42, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the $4 billion One Coin cryptocurrency scheme. OneCoin mastermind Ruja Ignatova is still at large. Dilkinska helped a lawyer launder more than $400 million through a series of fake Cayman Island investment funds.

Garrett Elder, 30, of Alaska, was accused of running a Ponzi-like scheme that allegedly defrauded at least 177 investors. Elder ran two businesses through Tycoon Trading, LLC and Daily Bread Fund, LLC that brought in $30 to $34 million, of which about $25 million was allegedly lost. 

Anthony Farrer, 35, of California, was charged in connection with a Ponzi-like scheme that he ran through his watch company, Timepiece Gentleman. Farrer told clients he would sell their watches on consignment and keep a commission, but Farrer instead sold the watches and kept the proceeds for himself. Other clients would wire money to purchase watches, and Farrer would send a different timepiece than what they requested. He stole about $3 million from at least 20 victims.

Phillip Galles, 57, of Illinois, and his entities, Tyche Asset Management LLC, Tyche Master Fund Ltd, Tyche Asset Trade LLC, Tyche Offshore Fund Ltd., Tyche Onshore Fund LP, Tyche PML Master Fund Ltd., Tyche PML Onshore Fund LP, Tyche Onshore Fund GP LLC, and Tyche Asset Trade LLC had a judgment entered against them for more than $20 million in favor of the CFTC. The CFTC has sued the defendants earlier this year alleging that they were running a Ponzi scheme that fraudulently solicited funds into a commodity pool. Galles promised returns of more than 200% annually from supposed sophisticated technology and strategies to trade commodity futures and options.  About 65 victims suffered losses totaling more than $5.3 million.

Cedric Griffin, 47, remains on the run following the filing of a complaint by the SEC in May that accused him of defrauding 103 investors out of $5.9 million. Griffin ran the scheme through G8 Equity and G8 RE Capital. The SEC was granted additional time to locate Griffin.

Alaa Mohamed Hattab, 35, pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired with Eliyahu “Eli” Weinstein to run a $230 million Ponzi scheme. Two other conspirators, Christopher Anderson, 47, and Richard Curry, 36, previously pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme.

John Karony, 27, Kyle Nagy, 35, and Thomas Smith, 35, were arrested on charges that they were running a Ponzi scheme through SafeMoon and the SafeMoon crypto token. The scheme brought in over $8 billion.

Francius Marganda, an Indonesian national, was extradited from Singapore to face charges in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that targeted the Indonesian and Indo-American community. Marganda ran the scheme through Air Travel Ticketing Corp, a discount airline tickets company in New York, as well as MH Lux & Beauty Inc., a purported luxury goods company in California. Two sham programs, called Easy Transfer and Global Transfer, were represented to be short-term, high-interest loan programs, and investors invested more than $23 million with promises of returns as high as 200%.

John A. Masanotti, 40, and his company, Middlesex Mortgage Group, LLC, were charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged Ponzi-like scheme. The scheme took in at least $5.9 million and promised returns from a pooled investment fund called the Middlesex Fund or the MMG Fund.

Sassi Mizrahi, 58, of California, was sentenced to 7 years and 3 months and ordered to pay more than $4.4 million in restitution in connection with a $7 million scheme that defrauded at least 40 investors. His brother, Motty Mizrahi, 51, pleaded guilty in January. The Ponzi scheme was run through MBIG Company, targeted the Orthodox Jewish Israeli community, and promised returns of 2% to 3% per month, with annual returns ranging from 30% to 102%. The funds were not invested, however and were placed in the personal trading accounts of Motty Mizrahi. 

Long Nguyen, 35, of California pleaded guilty to charges relating to a Ponzi scheme that defrauded at least 20 people out of about $2 million. Nguyen told people he was a billionaire and that he was creating a hedge fund for investments in companies that had not yet made an initial public offering. He also promised returns from a real estate investment trust that he said he managed. 

Franklin Ray, 52, of Michigan, was sentenced to 17 years and 8 months in connection with a fraudulent scheme involving $40 million and about 275 investors. He ran the scheme through CSA Business Solutions LLC, representing that he had 4,704 trucks and 4,909 drivers when in reality he only had two trucks and four drivers. The investor funds were supposed to be used to purchase over 2,000 trucks. He promised 77% returns over a seven-year period. The scheme was one of four separate fraudulent schemes run by Ray in a two-year period.

Jon Darrell Seawright, 51, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay $977,000 in restitution following his guilty plea in connection with the Ponzi scheme run through Alexander Seawright Timber Fund LLC. Seawright ran the scheme with Ted Brent Alexander. They promised returns from the loaning of funds to a timber broker to buy timber rights from landowners and then sell the rights to lumber mills at a higher price. Seawright is a former Baker Donelson partner. 

Craig Sherman, 81, of Florida, was sentenced to two years in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme. Sherman promised returns of between 6% and 8% in connection with a real estate Ponzi scheme. The scheme brought in close to $7 million.

Jake Soberal, 39, and Imma Olguin Jr., 42, of California, were charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged scheme run through Bitwise Industries, Inc. The scheme raised approximately $70 million from investors. Criminal charges were also filed against Soberal and Olguin in connection with the alleged scheme. They pleaded not guilty to the charges. That they had altered bank statements to inflate the amount of cash that Bitwise had in its account.

Jeffrey H. Tamkin, of California, was indicted on charges that he operated an $8 million Ponzi scheme. Tamkin ran the scheme through Tamkin Development Corporation and the Public Facilities Investment Corporation, promising returns from the development of buildings for public agencies.

Albert Alejandro Tinoco, 27, of Texas, was sentenced to 7 years in prison in connection with a $9 million Ponzi scheme. Tinoco claimed he was investing funds into funds dealing with cryptocurrency and foreign exchange markets, but he only invested less than half of a percent of the investors’ funds.



Christopher Hamilton, 64, avoided extradition to the United States in connection with the OneCoin cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme. 

Spencer Steinberg, 46, Michael Strubel, 54, and Jolan Saunders, 40, were sentenced to six years, seven years, and seven years, respectively, in connection with a Ponzi scheme run through Saunders Electrical Wholesalers Limited. They claimed they had won a contract to supply electrical goods to the Olympic Village ahead of the 2012 London games. About £78 million was put into the scheme by about 91 investors.


Sushil Kumar Tudu, the head of Solar Techno Alliance, was arrested for his role in the alleged cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme. 

Authorities are investigating an alleged Ponzi scheme run through Universal Trading Solutions.

Authorities busted a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme called “Yes World Crypto Token” aka Crypto CoinSandeep Choudhary, 40, was arrested in connection with the scheme, along with Basant Pradhan and Manoj Patnaik. Choudary was arrested as he was trying to escape from India to Dubai. The amount involved is estimated to be more than Rs. 200 crore.

Prakash Raj was summoned in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme linked to Pranav Jewellers. The scheme promised returns from a gold investment scheme involving 100 crore.

South Africa

Brandon Naicker aka Muruvan Egambaram and Abraham “Jason” Pillay were charged in connection with a scheme run through insurance brokerage firms called Infiniti and Branson Capital. They allegedly defrauded investors out of R2 million.


Suteewan “Baitoey” Thaweesin, 35, was released on bail following her arraignment along with her husband Pattanapon Minthakin aka DJ Man in connection with the Forex-3D Ponzi scheme. Forex 3D claimed to be an online dealer in foreign exchange, but thousands of investors were defrauded out of about 2 billion baht. The scheme was masterminded by Apiruk Kothi, who was arrested in 2021.

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