Husband And Wife Admit Ponzi Scheme Relating To Hedge Fund Investments In Foreign Currencies
NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey, couple have admitted to operating a Ponzi scheme in which they defrauded approximately two dozen investors by making extraordinary guarantees about investment returns and then used the money for extravagant purchases and to pay off other victims, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Alcibiades Cifuentes, 36, and his wife, Jennifer Wee Cifuentes, 38, formerly of West New York, New Jersey, each pleaded guilty to all six counts with which they were charged by indictment in May 2017: four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, and one count of theft by a commodity pool operator. Jennifer Wee Cifuentes pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court. Alcibiades Cifuentes pleaded guilty on Nov. 8, 2019.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Alcibiades and Jennifer Wee Cifuentes engaged in an investment fraud scheme from 2012 through March 2015. They fraudulently induced victims to invest in the foreign currency and commodity markets through Cifuentes Fund Management (CFM), their hedge fund that purportedly invested in foreign currencies. Instead, they almost immediately spent those investment funds on personal items, such as an Audi R8 and jewelry. The couple would then pay back a portion of the victims’ money with money received from newly duped victims. The couple defrauded approximately 25 victims of more than $500,000.
Each count of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy to which the defendants pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the scheme. The count of commodities theft to which the defendants pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentencing for Alcibiades Cifuentes is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2020, and for Jennifer Wee Cifuentes, Feb. 28, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn in Newark, and Special Agents with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the investigation leading to the guilty pleas. He also thanked the N.J. Bureau of Securities in the State Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs, under the direction of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Bureau Chief Christopher Gerold, as well as the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement, under the direction of Director James M. McDonald, for their respective roles in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony P. Torntore and Courtney A. Howard.
Alcibiades Cifuentes: Patrick McMahon Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark
Jennifer Wee Cifuentes: Aidan P. O’Connor Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey