News and Press Releases

FORT LAUDERDALE RESIDENT CHARGED IN $40 MILLION PONZI SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations, announced the filing of a criminal information charging defendant Luis Felipe Perez with six-counts of securities fraud in connection with a $40 million Ponzi scheme.

According to the information, from approximately 2006 through mid-2009, Perez, 38, of Fort Lauderdale, solicited funds from approximately 35 individuals in exchange for promissory notes or oral loan agreements. Perez falsely informed investors that they would be investing in his jewelry businesses or in pawn shops that were located in New York City. In fact, however, only a small portion of investor money was used for Perez’s jewelry businesses and none of the money was ever invested with any pawn shops. According to the charges, Perez also promised investors high returns from these investments of between 2% to 10% monthly, which would result in 24% to 120% paid annually. In fact, however, Perez created an unsustainable Ponzi scheme in which he used the monies collected from new investors to pay the returns promised to the earlier investors. This Ponzi scheme ultimately collapsed in May 2009.

According to the information, Perez also told investors that their funds would be secured with diamonds that were stored in safety deposit boxes. In fact, however, the investments were not secured by diamonds and, to the extent any purported gem stones were placed in safety deposit boxes, they were fake. Most of Perez’s investors never recovered their investments, while Perez made millions of dollars and lived an extravagant lifestyle that included a multi-million dollar home, expensive cars, international travel.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service, ICE’s Office of Investigations, and the Miami Regional Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew K. Levi and Richard Gregorie.

This law enforcement action is sponsored by President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

An information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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