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, April 30, 2024

April 2024 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

Below is a summary of Ponzi scheme activity reported for April 2024. There were at least 13 new Ponzi schemes revealed this month. Ponzi schemers received more than 25 years of prison sentences. The average age of the fraudsters was about 52 years old. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Michael Philip Atkins, 51, was sentenced to 3 years and 3 months in connection with a foreign exchange trading scheme that involved more than $18 million. The scheme defrauded 1,300 investors and was run through Singapore-based Aureus Capital. Atkins was extradited to Singapore last month.

Patrick Churchville, of Rhode Island, and his investment advisory firm, ClearPath Wealth Management LLC, had a final judgment and permanent injunction entered against them in the SEC action alleging they were running a Ponzi scheme. The scheme involved at least $27 million of losses.

Irina Dilkinska, 42, was sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $111 million for her role as the head of legal and compliance in the $4 billion OneCoin scheme. Dilkinska had pleaded guilty last year. The co-founder of the scheme, Karl Sebastian Greenwood, was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year.  The other co-founder, Ruja Ignatova, remains at large. Former OneCoin attorney Mark Scott was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Charles Todd Hill, 58, of California, was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay almost $9.5 million in restitution in connection with a real estate scheme that defrauded 11 victims. Hill is a former HGTV star from “Flip It to Win It.” Instead of using money to remodel homes, he spent it on luxury cars, vacations, and partying.

Zachary Horwitz had a final judgment entered against him in favor of the SEC in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme run through 1inMM Capital LLC that raised over $690 million. Horwitz had promised returns from the supposed sale of movie rights to HBO and Netflix, although no such sales actually took place.

Jebara Igbara aka Jay Mazini, 28, an Instagram influencer, was sentenced to 7 years in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme involving cryptocurrency.  Igbara’s scheme targeted the Muslim community in New York through his company called Halal Capital LLC.

Timothy France Johnson, 61, of Texas, was indicted on charges that he operated a $3 million Ponzi scheme through his companies, BOLO Entertainment LLC, BOLO Sports LLC and Shoot N’2 Sports LLC. Johnson promised investors their funds would be used to promote pre-season NBA games.

Adrian Kawuba, 34, of Massachusetts, was sentenced to 2 years and 3 months in prison and ordered to pay $625,000 in restitution in connection with an African Sports Ponzi scheme. Kawuba promised returns from investments in short term financing of youth sports venture in Africa. The scheme involved 26 fraudulent deals with over $2.2 million in funds. 

Douglas Lien, 82, of New Mexico, was sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $5 million in restitution in connection with a Ponzi scheme through Westend Investments. The scheme took in $14.2 million from 45 investors.

Eshaq M. Nawabi was ordered to pay $9 million in a CFTC action that alleged that Nawabi and his companies Nawabi Enterprise and Hyperion Consulting Inc. were running a fraudulent scheme promising profits of between 8% and 25% per month from foreign exchange trading.

Darren Robinson, 54, and his firm, The QYU Holdings Inc., were ordered to pay penalties in the amount of $11.8 million in connection with a Ponzi-like foreign exchange scheme. QYU claimed the fund did not have a single losing month and investors were promised guaranteed returns. They claimed that the firm was only paid on trading profits, not investor principal. Robinson misappropriated the investors’ funds and deposited them into an account he controlled. He used the funds to pay personal expenses, including luxury cruises, airfare, luxury vehicle purchases, real property purchases, credit cards payments, and other daily living expenses.

Ricky Southers was sued by New Hampshire state attorney general on allegations that his company Southers Construction was running a Ponzi scheme that involved $500,000. Southers relied on new customer deposits to finance new projects.

Martin Sumichrast settled SEC charges against him in connection with the Ponzi scheme run by Rick Siskey through Stone Street Partners. Siskey had been accused of orchestrating a $50 million Ponzi scheme, and he killed himself in 2016. Sumichrast agreed to pay $22,5000 to settle SEC charges against him. 

April Waidman aka April Simon aka April Marie is accused of running a puppy Ponzi scheme. Waidman sold the same puppies to multiple buyers. She operates using the names Simon Doxies, Simon Bulldogs, and April Doxies.

Michael Wayne Williams, 48, of Florida, was sentenced to one year and one day in connection with a scheme run through Highguard Capital and its affiliated entities, Guardian Opportunity Fund and Guardian Opportunity Management. Williams took $3.6 million from investors but used the money for unauthorized purposes, including to settle civil lawsuits accusing him of fraud and to repay investors from discontinued funds that he previously managed.

Marley Wynter ran House of Sport in what is alleged to be a poker Ponzi scheme. Wynter has disappeared, and $40 million in returns are owing.



Craig Michael Thompson and his companies, Black Box Management Corp. and Invader Management Ltd. were accused of running a $150 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded approximately 1,000 investors.

Curtis Gordon Quigley, 56, and Kathleen Treadgold, 56 turned themselves in after being charged in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme run through Group Venture Inc. They offered securities in the form of promissory notes and guaranteed investors returns from the flipping of real property.

Cherie Evangeline White and her company, KingdomINvestments2015 Inc. were fined by authorities based upon findings that they were operating a real estate Ponzi scheme that promised returns of 10% to 30% and lost $776,000 of investor funds. White represented that the funds would help house people who faced barriers to housing because of the purchase, improvement, and sale of properties at a profit.


In a joint enforcement effort involving 400 law enforcement officers across 11 countries, 9 suspects were arrested in the JuicyFields investment scheme. The scheme allegedly laundered profits totaling $692.2 million and involved medical marijuana. There were approximately 550,000 participants worldwide who had to invest at least 50 euros in this e-growing opportunity that promised returns of at least 100%, and up to 168%, annually. JuicyFields advertised on social media and promised returns from investment in cannabis cultivation for medicinal purposes. Spanish authorities called the investigation “Operation Stoner.”

Hong Kong

Authorities issues a securities fraud warning against ProCap, which offered rates of return of 6% to 42% per month. The scheme involved in prediction games, together with other benefits including referral incentives.


Amber Dalal, 59, was accused of operating a Ponzi scheme through Dalal’s Ritz Consultancy Services. He promised monthly returns of 1.5% to 1.8% and told investors that he invested their money in risk-free markets, including commodities. The scheme involved over 600 investors and approximately $46.7 million. Dalal defrauded many investors in the U.S.

Vinod Khute is wanted on allegations that he is running a Ponzi scheme through VIPS Group of Companies and Global Affiliate Business. Khute is believed to be the mastermind of the crypto exchange, wallet services, and foreign exchange trading through M/s Kana Capital Limited. Khute established the following companies to run the scheme: VIPSWALLET Pvt Ltd, VIPSTRADE Finance Private Limited, Kana Capitals Limited, Global Affiliate Business (GAB), VIPS Securities, and VIPS Properties.

Monica Tuli was arrested in connection with an alleged scheme run through Nature Heights Infra Limited that she ran with Neeraj Arora and Gaurav Chhabra. The scheme involved real estate and promised investors that they could double their money.

Muniraju GV was arrested on allegations that he was running a Ponzi scheme through Akshay Fortune Developers.

Assets of Methuku Ravinder and his family were attached in connection with a scheme that defrauded more than 10,000 people. The scheme was run through Sun Pariwar Group of companies, including Methuku Chit Fund Pvt. Ltd, Methuku Ventures Ltd., Metsun Nidhi Ltd., Methuku Herbal Limited, and Methuku Medical and Herbal Foundation. Ravinder promised returns of up to 100% per year.

Raj Kundra had his assets seized in connection an alleged Bitcoin Ponzi scheme.


Coenraad Botha, 69, and his Zimbabwean wife Charlotte Murove, 32, were arrested in connection with a cryptocurrency scheme involving $8.5 million, through CBI Exchange Namibia (Pty) Ltd aka CBI Global fka Uhuru Tribe or Uhuru Cash.

South Africa

Authorities froze the bank account of Piggy Farm Trading (Pty) Ltd. based on allegations that it ran a Ponzi scheme in which individuals could purchase up to 50 virtual pigs. The scheme involved a digital “Metaverse Piggy Farm” where the investments were supposedly risk-free because ‘dead’ pigs would be substituted with another one. Investors purchased a virtual prig for R2750 each and would be paid R550 per month for 12 months, and after 12 months, the pig would be returned to Piggy Farm Trading. The scheme promised returns of 140%. The scheme was run by Mthokozisi, Sphamandla and Siyabonga Ngcobo.

Johann Steynberg died while under house arrest for masterminding the cryptocurrency scheme run through Mirror Trading International.


David Pan was charged along with his company, Ace Exchange, on allegations that he was running a scheme through a cryptocurrency trading platform. Prosecutors allege that there were losses of $10.6 million affecting 162 victims.

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