Fraudster Pleads Guilty in $2 Million Ponzi Scheme
A Honduran man who conned investors out of roughly $2 million has pleaded guilty to mail fraud, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Jose Anibal Linares, 42, was charged in October with one count of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. He pleaded guilty to the mail fraud charge via videoteleconference before Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver on Tuesday.
According to plea papers, Mr. Linares admitted to running a Ponzi-type scheme, luring investors into handing over “principal” that he later deposited in bank accounts at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Legacy Texas, then paying them “interest” from other investors’ principal payments.
Mr. Linares, who operated JC Loans Finance and Inversiones JC Dallas, admitted he falsely told investors their funds were “insured by the FDIC” and promised monthly returns based on investments in commercial and residential real estate, including a water resort and shopping centers in Honduras. He then mailed investors letters thanking them for joining the JC “family.”
Instead of investing their money, however, Mr. Linares admits he spent substantial amounts of investor funds on personal expenditures, and even wired some of the money to family members in Honduras.
In the meantime, he made lulling payments to investors by withdrawing large sums from his Bank of America and Wells Fargo accounts, generally using funds that had been deposited immediately beforehand from other investors. On some occasions, he even took investors’ cash payments from one set of investors in his office, then turned the cash over to other investors waiting in his lobby for their monthly disbursements.
By summer 2017, Mr. Linares admits, he had ceased all monthly payments and did not return investors’ principal investments.
Mr. Linares now faces up to 20 years in federal prison. His sentencing date is set for January 11, 2021. A Honduran citizen in the U.S. on Temporary Protected Status, Mr. Linares may be subject to removal from the U.S. after serving his sentence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Miller is prosecuting the case.