Virginia Man Sentenced to 5 Years Probation and Ordered to Pay Over $1.5 Million in Restitution for Defrauding the United States
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that John Lopez was arraigned on a 27-count indictment charging him with 16 counts of wire fraud and 11 counts of mail fraud. Lopez, 71, of Flagstaff, Arizona, will remain on conditions of release pending trial, which has not been scheduled.
A federal grand jury indicted Lopez on Dec. 20, 2022. According to the indictment and other court records, Lopez was the founder and president of Personal Money Management Company (PMMCO), which ostensibly provided financial management services to clients, many of whom were retired or near retirement. Beginning in 2014, Lopez held himself out as an investment advisor with considerable expertise who could consistently and substantially beat the market average return on investment.
Lopez allegedly communicated to clients and prospective clients various false promises and misrepresentations related to his investment ability and strategy. As alleged in the indictment, Lopez falsely told clients and prospective clients that he could guarantee annual returns of 10 percent on their principal investment no matter how volatile the stock market might be, and that he could make an annualized 19.2-percent return on a retirement investment, in which clients would keep their initial principal investment as well. Lopez allegedly claimed that he had developed a computer program or algorithm that resulted in consistent and substantial above-average market returns on investments. He allegedly told clients and prospective clients that he would invest their money primarily in stocks and bonds, moving their money between those two investment instruments when market indicators or his computer algorithm told him to move them between the two.
From February 2014 through November 2021, Lopez received approximately $19.4 million from clients. During that same period, rather than invest primarily in stocks and bonds, Lopez allegedly purchased $13.3 million in precious metals, such as gold and silver. Lopez disbursed approximately $6.1 million to clients, which he allegedly represented as investment gains.
After securing client money, Lopez allegedly generated periodic account statements, purportedly showing substantial investment gains. For example, in November 2021, a client received a purported account statement reflecting that an investment of $200,000 with Lopez and PMMCO in 2016 had grown to $3,289,273, a 1,544-percent increase over an approximate five-year period. This growth calculation excluded a $565,000 withdrawal during 2021. In October 2021, those statements represented that PMMCO client account values were collectively worth approximately $39 million.
On Nov. 9 and 10, 2021, government agents seized PMMCO assets, mostly comprising precious metals, which were valued at less than $15 million.
Lopez allegedly continued to generate deceptive PMMCO account statements after the government seized PMMCO’s assets. On May 31, 2022, those statements represented PMMCO client account values worth approximately $49 million.
An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Lopez faces up to 20 years in prison.
The FBI Albuquerque Field Office and the U.S. Marshals Service investigated this case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office brought a separate civil forfeiture action on April 15, 2022, seeking to forfeit assets seized in November 2021. Litigation in the civil proceeding is ongoing.
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