SEC And Federal Prosecutors Go After Puerto Rican Evangelical Christian Ponzi Scam

August 21, 2012

English: Mug shot of Charles Ponzi (March 3, 1...

English: Mug shot of Charles Ponzi (March 3, 1882 - January 18, 1949). Charles Ponzi was born in Italy and became known as a swindler for his money scheme. His aliases include Charles Ponei, Charles P. Bianchi, Carl and Carlo.

Here we go again and, I gotta tell ya, I'm getting' a bit tired or reporting about these Ponzi frauds and their affinity group targets.  The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Ricardo Boniall Rojas, 53, Arecibo, Puerto Rico and his company, Shadai Yire,  with conducting a Ponzi scheme  from about August 2005 through February 2009 that targeted evangelical Christians and factory workers in Puerto Rico. 

According to the SEC, this alleged scam targeted some 200 investors to the tune of about $7 million. 

The SEC has filed a Complaint in the United States District Court in Puerto Rico seeking disgorgement, financial penalties, and injunctive relief; and a separate criminal action against Rojas was also filed in that same court.

NOTE: The charges in the complaints are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law.

As with most of these rip offs, the SEC alleges that the victims were promised 100% guaranteed safety for their investments with a robust 5% to 50% annual return through commodities investments.  Ummm . . . 100% safe with 50% in commodities? Commodities?? Oh for godsakes. Really?

By now it should not come as much of a revelation that Rojas allegedly pocketed some $700,000 and used the overage to repay earlier investors - the classic Ponzi ruse. Allegedly, Rojas hired some sales agents to help him solicit investors. Not surprisingly, these agents received a percentage of the funds raised - a nice, juicy commission, which probably wasn't disclosed to the folks solicited. And, as with virtually all of these investor frauds, the SEC alleges that Rojas fabricated bogus account statements that helped keep investors in the dark as to the true status of their investments.

As noted in the SEC's press release:

"Rojas targeted novice investors who were often evangelical Christians, and he touted a long history of successful trading in commodities," said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC's Miami Regional Office. "In reality, he was fleecing the flock."

For a rogue's gallery of recent Ponzi scams covered in "Street Sweeper," READ: