Investment Firm Operator Charged with Running $100 Million Ponzi Scheme
DETROIT - The operator of a supposed foreign exchange trading firm has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme which obtained $100 million from investors, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced.
Ison was joined in the announcement by James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Charles Miller, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.
Darren Anthony Robinson, 53, a U.S. citizen who has operated out of the country of Panama, was charged in a criminal complaint with committing wire fraud. Robinson appeared today in federal court in Detroit to make his initial appearance.
According to the complaint, which was unsealed today, Robinson operated a supposed trading firm known as “QYU,” which was located in Panama and the Cayman Islands. QYU represented to investors that it was consistently generating stellar investment results. For example, in one QYU document, the firm claimed that a $100,000 investment into its fund in 2014 would have grown to over $2 million by 2021. That same document claimed the fund did not have a single losing month over that same period. QYU investors were promised guaranteed returns and told the firm was only paid on trading profits, not investor principal.
The complaint alleges that QYU was simply a Ponzi scheme. Investor funds were largely not used for trading activity. Instead, new investor funds were used to pay other investor distributions, cover QYU business expenses, compensate QYU employees, and fund Robinson’s lifestyle. QYU investors were provided with false account statements and fictious trading data. The complaint indicates that QYU obtained an estimated $100 million from investors.
“The complaint alleges a brazen investment fraud that victimized investors around the world. My office will work tirelessly to investigate and prosecute those who defraud others and undermine the financial system,” said U.S. Attorney Ison.
“This defendant allegedly orchestrated a large-scale, multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme with victims across the globe,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “Investment fraud can be crippling for its victims, and the FBI is committed to identifying and working with anyone impacted by this scheme.”
"Illegal activity involving the investment industry, especially Ponzi schemes, has brought financial ruin to many Americans, said Charles Miller, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, using our financial investigative expertise to help put a stop to this and other types of white-collar crime in Michigan."
Law enforcement has identified many apparent QYU investors from southeast Michigan. Potential victims are encouraged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at www.fbi.gov/QYU_holdings_victims (Please note that the link to the website is case sensitive).
A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Trial cannot be held on felony charges in a complaint. When the investigation is completed, a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment on the charges brought in the complaint. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The defendant faces up to twenty years in prison on the charge of wire fraud.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew J. Yahkind. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan thanks the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for its assistance in this matter.