Third Conspirator Sentenced In $11 Million Fraud Scheme
Orlando, Florida - U.S. District Judge Charlene E. Honeywell sentenced Nathan Betances (34 of Winter Garden, Florida) yesterday to 5 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud. The Court also ordered Betances to pay $11,594,573.15 in restitution to more than 700 victims. As part of Betances’ sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $15 million. To date, the United States Attorney’s Office has forfeited more than $9.6 million in assets in this case.
Betances pled guilty on April 3, 2012. According to court documents, Betances and his co-conspirators operated a fraud scheme through a Panamanian company by the name of Traders International Return Network (TIRN). TIRN was incorporated by Betances and his co-conspirators in Panama City, Panama on June 16, 2008. David Merrick was its president. Betances was a promoter of the scheme.
Starting in May 2008, Betances, Merrick, Japheth Paramanandam, and their co-conspirators deceived investors by making claims, both via the Internet and at business opportunity meetings, that investments in TIRN, as advertised the company’s website, would yield exceptionally high returns not achievable anywhere in the legitimate business world. They specifically claimed that investors could receive between 9% and 22% in returns on their investment per month. While TIRN advertised on its website that investments were made 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. TIRN investors were not told where their money was actually being invested. TIRN's website merely indicated that it "pools investor funds" for the investments described above and that "professional money managers" manage such investments.
Federal law requires licensing and registration to serve as a pool operator for the purpose of purchasing commodities. Betances, Merrick, and Paramanandam did not hold any type of investment license with the National Futures Association or the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission. In total, TIRN collected more than $15 million from more than 700 investors (both domestic and international).
Betances is the third individual who has been sentenced as part of this investigation. On January 17, 2012, Merrick (62, Orlando) was sentenced to 8 years, 1 month in federal prison for money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud. On June 7, 2012, Paramanandam (39, Winter Springs) was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud. Merrick and Paramanandam were also ordered to pay restitution to the victims of their offenses, and to forfeit assets that were traceable to the proceeds obtained from the offenses. Merrick was ordered to forfeit more than $9.6 million in assets, and Paramanandam was ordered to forfeit $27,763.44 in assets.
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.