FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
MARCH 1, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE MAN INDICTED IN INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME
Allegedly Received $8 Million from Over 900 Investors, Including Hurricane Katrina Victims
Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted David McDowell Robinson, age 56, of Baltimore, on charges of wire and mail fraud arising from a fraudulent investment scheme involving over 900 investors throughout the country, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. The indictment was returned on February 28, 2007 and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendant.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, "The indictment alleges that David Robinson perpetrated an $8 million Ponzi scheme that victimized innocent investors, including Hurricane Katrina victims who were induced to invest their money in a worthless venture."
According to the 19-count indictment, Robinson was the sole shareholder, president and chief executive officer of Liberty Trade International, Inc. (LTI) from its original incorporation in April 2003 until a court-appointed receiver took control of LTI in March, 2006. During that time, Robinson directed all of LTI’s operations and controlled the company’s assets. LTI solicited investors throughout the country by means of e-mail, voice-mail, public meetings and word of mouth, offering three investment options: invest $2,500 at a 20% rate of return over 60 days; invest $5,000 at a 25% rate over 90 days; or invest $10,000 at a 30% rate over 120 days.
According to the indictment, LTI accepted investments from September 2004 to March 2006, receiving over $8 million in funds from over 900 investors. Robinson falsely represented to investors that LTI would provide short-term financing to home buyers or persons refinancing their homes to generate the returns necessary to pay the promised rates of interest; that these loans would all be secured by liens against real estate having substantial equity; and that a separate reserve account owned by LTI would be established to ensure timely repayments and interest to investors. None of these representations were true. Instead, LTI investors received unsecured, uncollateralized and uninsured promissory notes. Robinson extended only around $300,000 in loans to individuals who were personal acquaintances, none of which were capable of generating sufficient returns to pay the amounts he had promised investors, and most of which carried little or no security.
Rather than use funds generated by loans or real estate transactions to pay the rates of return promised to its investors by LTI, Robinson instead used funds received by LTI from its own investors to pay the promised rates of return. Between September 2004 and March 2006, LTI made payments of principal or interest to its investors totaling almost $3.6 million, all of which was derived from principal invested by other LTI investors.
The indictment further alleges that starting in November 2005, LTI began to run short of funds to pay the returns owed to its investors. In January 2006, as part of a search for new investors, Robinson dispatched an LTI employee to Gulfport, Mississippi to make a presentation about LTI. Many of those attending the presentation were victims of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. LTI received about $80,000 in investments from residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast area as a result of that presentation.
According to the indictment, the Securities Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office began an investigation of Robinson and LTI in February 2006. As a result of litigation commenced by the Securities Division, LTI’s assets were placed under the control of a court-appointed receiver on March 26, 2006. The court-appointed receiver found that LTI owed its investors about $7.082 million, and that LTI’s obligations to its investors were continuing to accrue at a rate of over $600,000 a month. In contrast, LTI’s assets consisted of approximately $1.4 million in its bank accounts, approximately $300,000 in outstanding personal and business loans of varying degrees of collectibility; and ownership interests in real estate located in Georgia and North Carolina that were worth substantially less than the approximately $2 million expended to acquire them. Robinson is alleged to have expended over $600,000 in investors’ funds received by LTI on personal items; presents for a family member and female friends, including a mink coat for a woman with whom Robinson was romantically involved; and leases of luxury automobiles.
Robinson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine followed by 5 years of supervised release on each of the charges of wire and mail fraud. Robinson had an initial appearance today and was detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for March 2, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by the Securities Division of the Maryland State Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in this matter. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jefferson M. Gray and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Leonovicz, who are prosecuting the case.