Orlando Man Sentenced to 8 Years for $11 Million Fraud Scheme
Orlando, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Judge Charlene E. Honeywell sentenced David Merrick (62, Orlando) earlier this week to 8 years and 1 month in federal prison for money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud. The court also ordered Merrick to pay $11,467,573.15 in restitution to more than 700 victims, and to forfeit more than $9.6 million in assets, which are traceable to the proceeds obtained from the offenses. As part of Merrick’s sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $15 million. In accordance with Department of Justice policy, the United States Attorney will be requesting permission from the Attorney General to use the forfeited assets to partially satisfy the restitution order.
Merrick pled guilty on May 20, 2010.
According to court documents, Merrick and his co-conspirators operated a fraud scheme through a Panamanian company called Traders International Return Network (TIRN). Merrick was the president of TIRN.
Starting in May 2008, Merrick and his co-conspirators deceived investors by making claims, both via the internet and at business opportunity meetings, that investments in TIRN would yield exceptionally high returns not achievable anywhere in the legitimate business world. Specifically, it was advertised that investors could receive between 9% and 22% in returns per month on their investment. While TIRN advertised on its website that various types of investments were made to include investments in the FOREX market, the buying and selling of commodities, the purchase of gold mines in Africa, and the buying and selling of real estate, such investments were not actually made on behalf of TIRN's investors. In fact, TIRN investors were not actually told where their money was being invested. TIRN's website merely indicated that it "pools investor funds" for the investments described above and that "professional money managers" managed such investments.
Federal law requires licensing and registration to serve as a pool operator for the purpose of purchasing commodities. Neither TIRN nor Merrick held any type of investment license with the National Futures Association or the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission.
Since May 2008, TIRN collected more than $15 million from more than 500 investors (both domestic and international). Merrick and his co-conspirators misappropriated some of those investors' funds for their own personal benefit, by purchasing vehicles, buying homes, paying off home mortgages, and sending money to accounts they controlled both in the United States and overseas.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger B. Handberg, I. Randall Gold and Nicole Andrejko.