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

Sunday, June 30, 2024

June 2024 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

By Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Below is a summary of Ponzi scheme activity reported for June 2024. There were at least 6 new Ponzi schemes revealed this month. Ponzi schemers received more than 23 years of prison sentences and there were 4 guilty pleas. The average age of the fraudsters was about 45 years old. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. 

Vincent Falci, 57, was charged on allegations that he was running a Ponzi scheme that stole $5.3 million from investors. Falci is a New Jersey investment manager who represented that he was investing in day-trading and real estate.

Joshua Goltry, 30, pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme through JAG Cap LLC dba JAG Capital, an investment fund. Goltry had represented that he managed more than $50 million but obtained about $3 million over the course of the scheme. He claimed that the fund’s performance exceeded 200% and at times exceeded 1000%.

Alan John Hanke, 50, pleaded guilty to charges that he misappropriated more than $8 million as part of a Ponzi scheme run through IOLO Capital. Hanke promised investors high returns in a short period of time from investments in standby letters of credit, medium term notes, and high yield bonds. He also promised that the investments were insured against losses. Hanke filed bankruptcy in 2021, seeking to discharge the debts but failed to disclose the proceeds from the sale of an airplane.

William Logsdon, 55, was sentenced to 9 years in prison in connection with a $2.1 million scheme that he ran with his mother-in-law, Jamie Thompson. Thompson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Ruja Ignatova had a $5 million bounty placed on her head by the U.S. State Department. Ignatova went missing in 2017 and is believed to be the ringleader of the OneCoin Ponzi scheme. She was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list in 2022. Ignatova faces charges in the U.S., Germany and India. Co-founder Karl Greenwood was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and Bulgarian national Irina Dilkinska and American Mark Scott were sentenced to prison earlier this year - 4 years and 10 years, respectively. 

Siddarth Jawahar, 36, of Missouri, and his investment company, Swiftarc Capital, and other related companies, were charged in connection with running a Ponzi scheme that brought in $35 million. Only $10 million was actually invested, and Jawahar used funds to pay for private planes, stays at luxurious hotels, and extravagant dinners.

Frank Mercado, 26, of North Carolina, was charged and pleaded guilty to defrauding more than 100 people through a Ponzi scheme run through his business, Tiger-Wolf Capital. The scheme run from 2019 to 2022 and victims lost more than $700,000. Investors were promised more than a 50% return on their investment from supposed options trading.

Michael Mooney, Britt Wright and Penny Flippen were barred by the SEC and fined about $230,000 in penalties each based on their role in the Horizon Private Equity III Ponzi scheme run by John J. Woods. The scheme raised $100 million, and Woods was sentenced to almost 8 years in prison. Investors were promised 6% to 7% returns from portfolios in government bonds, stocks, and real estate products.

Della Far Perez pleaded not guilty to charges that she stole $400,000 in restitution from Ponzi scheme victims.

Eddy Petion and Cynthia Petion were charged in connection with a scheme run through NovaTechFX and AWS Mining Pty Ltd based on allegations that they were running a $1 billion fraud through a cryptocurrency trading and mining business. Over 11,000 investors deposited over $1 billion of crypto, but less than $26 million was actually traded. The scheme targeted the Haitian community. Others named in the suit include top promoters and recruiters James Corbett, Martin Zizi and Frantz Ciceron; and several companies linked to the group — NovaTech Advisors, NovaPay, Kings Multi Services Agency, Trinity of Success and Positive Vision Marketing.

Sergei Potapenko, 39, and Ivan Turõgin, 39, were accused of running a Ponzi scheme through HashFlare, a cloud mining contract service. The scheme allegedly defrauded investors out of approximately $575 million by selling mining capacity that they did not actually have. HashFlare used Ecohouse and Dalmeron, which were shell companies, to launder and transfer investor funds

Brian Simms, 46, of Indiana, was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison and ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution for running a Ponzi-like scheme through Brendanwood Financial Brokerage LLC. Simms misappropriated more than $3.9 million from 20 investors and used some of the funds for personal expenditures. Simms was not licensed to sell securities.

Ricky Southers and Southers Construction of Epping have been sued to prohibit the construction firm from accepting payments in what is alleged to be a Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims out of more than $500,000.

Michael Rabb, Byron Gruber, Jason Bradley Cross, and Eugene Elfrank were accused of running a Ponzi scheme through Texas-based Isotex Health, LLC. The scheme allegedly involved over $6 million through a hemp processing facility in Montana. 

Juan Tacuri, 46, of Florida, pleaded guilty to his role in promoting the cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme through Forcount, later than as Weltsys. Forcount promised returns to victims from cryptocurrency trading and mining, but in reality, there was no trading and mining. The scheme brought in $8.4 million, mostly from Spanish-speaking investors. Forcount also began selling proprietary crypto coins known as Mindexcoin.

Nicole J. Walker, 44, was sued by the SEC in connection with a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme run through Woodbridge Wealth. Woodbridge raised funds from more than 8,400 investors nationwide. The CEO, Robert H. Shapiro, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in connection with the Woodbridge scheme.



Marley Wynter was ordered to pay $4.8 million to plaintiffs in a suit relating to a poker sports betting scheme run through Marley’s House of Sport. The affiliated company Marley’s House of Investment is believed to be a Ponzi scheme that marketed itself as a financial investment service specializing in sports betting, horse racing, and “strategic” bankroll management, claiming to have more than 12,000 investors.

Dean Pipcelli, 56, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for a scheme he ran involving the purchase and sale of timber supplies.


Usman Asif and his companies, Mughal Asset Management Corp. and Lendle Corp., were permanently banned from the Ontario Capital Markets Tribunal. They were previously found to have operated a scheme that targeted the Pakistani community, promising monthly returns of 2% to 5%. The scheme involved at least $2.76 million.


Authorities arrested Sandeep Kumar Yadav who is accused of defrauding about 5,000 investors in a motorcycle taxi scheme known as Maple Innovative Promoters, similar to the Bike Bot scheme.

Authorities raided the premises of the promoters of HighRich Online Group who are accused of running a Rs 1,500 crore Ponzi scheme. The scheme involved trading of cryptocurrency and a crypto coin named HR Crypto Coin, and investors were promised 15% returns per year and 30% referral fees for bringing in new customers. Authorities also searched the premises of also conducted searches at the premises of Highrich Smartech Pvt. Ltd., Highrich Online Shoppe Pvt. Ltd., and related entities.

Elite Forum World was a multi-level investment program which been labeled as a disguised Ponzi scheme. The scheme promoted a “Gift Plan” in which they initial investment was labeled a gift and the distributed to earlier investors.

Authorities seized approximately 37 crore in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme run by Amber Dalal and his company, Ritz Consultancy Services. The scheme raised more than 600 crore from 1,300 investors. Dalal promised returns of 18% to 22% from the supposed investment in funds in commodities.

Kunjathbail Mujib Sayyad was arrested on allegations that he was running a Ponzi scheme through Max Crypto Trading. The scheme was operated through an Android application called MAX App.


Mariam Suleiman, the chairwoman of Famzhi Interbiz Limited, was jailed for 5 years and the company was ordered to wind up its affairs and all property forfeited to the government.

Authorities sealed the premises of Ready Finance Investors Limited for engaging in an alleged Ponzi scheme.


Authorities warned the public that Skyline Crypto and Dry Goods Trading are not authorized to solicit investments.

The SEC revoked the registration of New Seataoo Corp. and Seataoo Information Technology OPC and imposed a P1-million fine.


Authorities arrested a Chinese woman identified as Hu, 24, on charges that she ran a Ponzi scheme that caused over 150 million baht in damages.


Authorities detained 127 co-conspirators and seized over $31 million in assets in connection with an alleged cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme.


Alvin Koo Jing You, 38, was arrested on allegations that he was running a Ponzi-like scheme that defrauded more than 24 victims out of more than $8.15 million. Koo was selling investment products through iFast Financial Pte Ltd.

South Africa

Sona Pillay, 54, and Michael Philip Adam Haldane, 55, was arrested in connection with the R2.8 billion BHI Trust Ponzi scheme. Craig Roy Warrine, 60, was previously sentenced to 25 years in prison in connection with the scheme. Pillay, the managing director of Rubicon Trust Company, had attempted to flee the country unsuccessfully. The BHI Trust scheme began in 2008 and promised returns exceeding 10%.

Neil Leon De Waal was arrested on charges relating to his recruitment of investors in the GS Partners metaverse fraud case.


Zhao Jiatong, a Chinese national, was arrested in connection with the E-Creator Ponzi scheme.