Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that SCOTT A. BEATTY pled guilty in Manhattan federal court today to commodities fraud in connection with his scheme to defraud at least 49 investors of more than $825,000 through a scheme in which BEATTY solicited investments for off-exchange foreign currency contracts known as “forex.” BEATTY was arrested on April 21, 2016, and pled guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Scott Beatty admitted today that he purposely cheated dozens of investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He lied about his abilities to generate returns on foreign exchange investments, and then used investors’ money to pay his own bills and to pay back other investors.”
According to the Complaint, the Information, and other statements made in open court:
From January 2011 through June 2014, BEATTY, through his investment companies Peak Capital Management Group, Inc., and Peak Capital Group, Inc., engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain investments from individual investors purportedly for the purpose of trading in forex. In connection with the scheme, BEATTY made a series of false and misleading representations to investors, on a website he created and maintained (the “Website”) and through email, including: (a) that BEATTY was using investors’ funds to conduct forex trading when, in fact, BEATTY used just $125,000 of the $825,00 in investor funds for trading; (b); that BEATTY’s forex trading was generating consistently positive annualized returns as high as 43.9 percent when, in fact, his limited trading was consistently unsuccessful; and (c) that BEATTY had created individual accounts for each investor, in which BEATTY purported to execute forex trading when, in fact, BEATTY failed to create such individualized accounts. In addition to false and misleading representations made on the Website and over email, BEATTY generated wholly fictitious account statements that he provided to his clients through a client portal on the Website.
As a result of these misrepresentations, BEATTY obtained more than $825,000 in investments from more than 49 investors, the majority of whom were Japanese citizens who were not authorized to trade leveraged, margined, or financed forex in individually managed accounts under the Commodity Exchange Act. Of the money he did not lose in commodities trading, BEATTY routinely converted investor funds to his own use in the form of cash withdrawals and debit card purchases, including at least $517,000 for, among other things, BEATTY’s personal expenses such as restaurant bills and retail purchases. In addition, to hide his trading losses and continue to fund his personal lifestyle, BEATTY used new investor funds to pay back other investors in a Ponzi-like fashion. In total, BEATTY distributed approximately $184,000 back to investors.
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BEATTY, 41, of Roy, Utah, pled guilty to one count of commodities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. The defendant will be sentenced at a future date by United States District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thanked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission for their assistance with the investigation.
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.