A South Florida man has been charged in a
Ponzi scheme after taking $40 million from unsuspecting investors. On Wednesday, June
2, 2010, federal authorities charged 38-year-old Luis Felipe Perez in
connection with the scam.
According to federal authorities and documents filed with the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission, Perez allegedly swindled $40 million from about
35 people, including personal connections and family members. The scheme
supposedly lasted from 2006 to the middle of 2009. Perez has been charged
with six counts of securities fraud.
Investors were told that the money would be used to invest in his jewelry
business and/or New York pawn shops. He allegedly even used fake diamonds
to convince some of the investors. Investors were also under the impression
that their investments would be secured with diamonds that he had stored
in safe deposit boxes.
However, prosecutors claim that Perez used money from new investors to
pay back some of the older investors. Investors were promised annual returns
of 18 percent to 120 percent through monthly interest payments.
During the scheme, Perez apparently gifted approximately $1 million to
family members, as well as spent $300,000 traveling via private jet. He
has also been accused of spending $400,000 on costs associated with leasing
exotic cars. Perez even made $100,000 in political contributions.
According to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Alicia Valle, Perez
is not in custody. However, he is expected to appear before a federal
magistrate judge in the near future.