- Federal prosecutors have charged three men in connection with an alleged $364 million Ponzi scheme that could have more than 400 victims nationwide.
- The men were indicted on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.
- The indictment alleges that the three men took $73 million of investors’ funds “to purchase and renovate high end homes in Maryland, Texas, Nevada, and Florida, purchase luxury automobiles, jewelry, boats, and a share in a jet plane, gamble $25 million at casinos, and support a lavish lifestyle.”
A federal grand jury has indicted three men on charges related to an alleged $364 million ponzi scheme.
The three alleged fraudsters — Kevin B. Merrill, Jay B. Ledford and Cameron Jezierski — promised to pay investors significant profits from the purchase and resale of consumer debt portfolios, but in fact, they “touted their purported investment expertise to siphon millions of dollars from unsuspecting investors,” according to the SEC’s complaint.
A press release from the Department of Justice US Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland said:
“The indictment alleges that Merrill, Ledford, and Jezierski personally enriched themselves and concealed their diversion of $73 million of investors’ funds to purchase and renovate high end homes in Maryland, Texas, Nevada, and Florida, purchase luxury automobiles, jewelry, boats, and a share in a jet plane, gamble $25 million at casinos, and support a lavish lifestyle.
The men were charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering, according to the Department of Justice. The victims included small business owners, restauranteurs, bankers, talent agents, professional athletes, and financial advisors.
“We allege that the defendants engaged in a brazen fraud, deceiving investors to perpetuate their wrongdoing and line their pockets with ill-gotten gains,” said Kelly L. Gibson, Associate Regional Director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office. “Investors should be warned that low-risk, high-return investments that never lose should be a red flag.”
According to the SEC, Ledford misappropriated at least $40 million. That includes the transfer of at least $17 million to personal bank accounts, and the purchase of: “a $368,000 Ferrari, a $330,000 seven-carat diamond ring, and a $168,000 23-carat diamond bracelet, while transferring $13 million to casinos.”
Merrill misappropriated at least $45 million, according to the SEC. The SEC said:
“He transferred over $7 million to his personal bank accounts, spent $10.2 million on at least 25 high-end automobiles (including a 2008 Bugatti Veyron, a 2014 Pagani Huayra Diablo, a 2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, a 2017 Rolls Royce Dawn, and multiple other models made by Ferrari and Lamborghini), $5.5 million toward the purchase of a house in Naples, Florida, over $2 million for home renovations, $500,000 for an interest in a Gulfstream 200 private jet, a $100,000 club membership in Naples, $350,000 on a boat, and transferring approximately $1 million to casinos.
Attorneys for the three men were not listed in court documents.