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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Peruvian National Arrested And Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Commodities, Wire Fraud, And Money Laundering For Running Million-Dollar Ponzi Scheme

Pedro Jaramillo Charged with Defrauding Over Two Dozen Individual Investors

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that PEDRO JARAMILLO, a/k/a “Enrique Jaramillo,” was arrested this morning on commodities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges stemming from his scheme to defraud more than two dozen investors, mostly retirees and professionals from Peru and countries in Latin America, of more than $1.2 million. JARAMILLO solicited investments largely for the purported purpose of short-term commodity futures contracts but instead diverted the funds for his own use.  Among other false and misleading statements, JARAMILLO represented to clients that he was an accomplished Wall Street commodities trader who partnered with a certain well-known international investment bank (the “Global Investment Bank”) to earn returns of 25 percent every 90 days for his investors.  In fact, JARAMILLO utterly failed to invest monies as promised, had no partnership with the Global Investment Bank, and instead diverted the majority of investor funds to his own use through cash withdrawals, debit purchases, and by wiring funds offshore.  The investor funds not diverted offshore or directly to JARAMILLO were used to repay earlier investors whose redemption requests could not be forestalled, in a Ponzi-like fashion. 

JARAMILLO was presented today in Magistrate Court before the Honorable Ronald L. Ellis and detained. 

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Pedro Jaramillo allegedly lured customers through slick promotional material, selling them investment accounts with guaranteed returns.  But as alleged, what he sold them was a false bill of goods.  Jaramillo allegedly used his investors’ money for his own personal use and to pay back other duped investors.  Thanks to the dedicated work of the FBI, Jaramillo will now have to answer for his crimes.”  

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “As alleged, Jaramillo more than breached the trust of his would-be victims by engaging in activity that caused them to lose their life savings, retirement funds, and more.  When he took money from his clients, he led them to believe it would be invested for their benefit.  In the end, their rate of return was nothing short of heartache. Financial crimes have a negative impact on the economy and individuals alike.  We will continue to investigate those who engage in these illegal acts to help prevent future fraudulent activity in the financial markets.”

According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:

Beginning in at least January 2014 through December 2016, JARAMILLO solicited more than $1.2 million in investments from more than two dozen investors, primarily for the purported purpose of investing in commodity futures contracts, by falsely representing, orally and in writing, that investor monies would be invested in short-term commodities contracts with a guaranteed rate of return.

To help attract investors, JARAMILLO maintained an office on Wall Street (the “Wall Street Office”) where he met with prospective investors to tout his prior success and relationship with the Global Investment Bank.  JARAMILLO also starred in a youtube.com video (the “Video”) set to the soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”  The Video featured a series of images of Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, and JARAMILLO in front of the Wall Street Office.  In the video, JARAMILLO told prospective investors that he was a “proven winner” and “trusted partner” who would maintain individually managed and federally insured accounts for each client.  JARAMILLO told prospective investors that these safeguards would ensure that prospective investors would “be protected against fraud and brokerage failure.” 

In truth and in fact, JARAMILLO not only failed to create individual investment accounts, he failed to use investor funds to make any legitimate investments, instead diverting the majority of funds to his own use, out of the country, or to repay earlier investors whose redemption requests could not be forestalled.  In total, JARAMILLO diverted more than $700,000 to his own use in the form of cash withdrawals and debit card purchases used to fund his lifestyle, including thousands of dollars on three vacations to Disney World for JARAMILLO, family, and guests. 

To hide his misappropriations and continue to fund his personal lifestyle, JARAMILLO also used new investor funds to pay back other investors in a Ponzi-like fashion.  In total, since January 2014, JARAMILLO distributed more than $200,000 back to investors from funds deposited by new investors.  During that time, JARAMILLO also diverted more than $100,000 of investor funds out of bank accounts he controlled in the United States to foreign bank accounts, including in Peru, where JARAMILLO is a citizen.

As a result of their investments with JARAMILLO, investors have lost their life savings, retirement funds, and/or their homes.

*                      *                      *

JARAMILLO, 47, was arrested this morning in Queens, New York.  He is charged with one count of commodities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI.  He added that the investigation is continuing.

The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea M. Griswold is in charge of the prosecution.  

The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.    

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
16-344
Updated December 20, 2016