Business Trial Group Investigates $24M Ponzi Scheme Targeting African Immigrants
The Business Trial Group is investigating an alleged $27 million fraudulent scheme that The Smart Partners LLC and 1st Million LLC perpetrated against more than 1,000 investors, most of whom were African immigrants. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently charged Smart Partners, 1st Million, and their principals (Dennis Jali, John Frimpong, and Arley Johnson) with violations of federal securities laws for operating an alleged Ponzi scheme.
According to the SEC’s complaint, the defendants touted risk-free investment returns ranging from 6 percent to 42 percent. They also misrepresented that they utilized licensed traders for foreign-exchange and cryptocurrency trading, the SEC alleges.
The SEC alleges that the defendants engaged in an affinity scheme by targeting African immigrants and emphasizing their common ancestry and religious affiliations to gain their trust. According to the SEC, one of the principals, Dennis Jali, told investors that he is a pastor, a self-made millionaire, and expert trader. He even rented office space to make it appear that his companies were legitimate, the SEC says.
However, as the SEC alleges, Jali and his companies were not legitimate. The defendants used investor moneys to fund their personal lifestyles and to pay earlier investors in a Ponzi-like fashion, according to the SEC.
According to Kelly L. Gibson, director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office, the defendants exploited religious affiliations and cultural affinities to gain investors’ trust.
“We encourage all investors to be on high alert whenever they are offered investments promising low risk and guaranteed returns, including from members of a trusted community,” Gibson said in a statement.
The SEC has charged the defendants with violating anti-fraud securities laws and seeks the return of investor moneys, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. The SEC also charged Access2Assets as a relief defendant, seeking the return of moneys from the alleged Ponzi scheme. In addition to the SEC’s action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has filed criminal charges and the CFTC has filed a civil action.
If you have suffered losses relating to the alleged affinity-based scheme perpetrated by Smart Partners and 1st Million or a similar scheme, we are here to help. Contact the Business Trial Group for a free case evaluation. Our experienced attorneys have helped investors recover tens of millions of dollars of investment losses.
As part of the largest contingency law firm in the nation, the Business Trial Group is only paid if we successfully recover money for you.