Former HSI Special Agent Sentenced to More Than Six Years in Prison on Tax, Structuring, and Concealment Charges
CHICAGO — A Chicago trader was sentenced today to nine years in federal prison for defrauding investors out of more than $9 million.
NICK WURL, 27, the founder of Chicago-based Ludiera Capital LLC, fraudulently raised approximately $11.2 million from more than 60 investors. From January 2012 through May 2015, Wurl falsely portrayed Ludiera as a successful trading firm that was earning extraordinary profits from the buying and selling of commodities such as corn and soybeans. Wurl created phony bank records and false account statements to fraudulently represent that Ludiera was generating large profits and that investors’ funds were safe.
In reality, Wurl had lost or misappropriated more than $8 million, and he spent another $900,000 on business and personal expenses, including a Corvette and a luxury sport-utility vehicle.
Wurl, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud. U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee imposed the 108-month sentence in federal court in Chicago. Judge Lee also ordered Wurl to pay restitution of approximately $9.2 million. The government was able to freeze for victims approximately $3.4 million in Ludiera and Wurl assets that had been misappropriated and stashed in trading accounts.
The sentence was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Substantial assistance was provided by the Kansas City office of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Chicago office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Wurl’s investors suffered significant financial harm and emotional distress as a result of this scheme,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacqueline Stern and Kaarina Salovaara argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Wurl specifically promised investors that their funds were safe, because that was a key issue to the investors, but Wurl’s promise was a flat out lie.”
Wurl received investment funds from clients all over the United States, including California, New Jersey, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Several victims submitted letters to the Court prior to the sentencing hearing, describing how they were duped by Wurl. One of these victims and his mother invested a total of $550,000, only to learn later that Wurl had lied to them. Another victim described how Wurl’s scam had jeopardized his retirement plans and his daughter’s college financing.
Ludiera is now defunct.