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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Virginia Man Arrested And Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With $2 Million Iraqi Dinar Fraud

Geoffrey S. Berman, 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 WILLIAM BURBANK was arrested on wire fraud charges stemming from a scheme in which he solicited funds from investors based on false and fraudulent pretenses to purportedly invest in dinar, the currency of Iraq.  Upon obtaining the funds, BURBANK either lost or misappropriated them, and then lied to investors about the state of their investments.  BURBANK was arrested this morning, and will appear later this afternoon in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia.  This case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “William Burbank allegedly misrepresented to his investors – many of whom were veterans and their families – that their funds would be used to invest in Iraqi dinar, a foreign currency.  Instead, Burbank allegedly engaged in a classic Ponzi-like scheme to pay out early investors and use the rest for unauthorized trading or for his own personal expenses.  As with most alleged Ponzi schemes, the result was Burbank’s clients suffering a loss of their investments.  Now William Burbank stands charged of the crime of wire fraud and faces time in federal prison.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “As alleged, Burbank engaged in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme that ultimately unraveled and led to the charges he faces today.  What makes this case particularly egregious is that many of Burbank’s alleged victims were U.S. military veterans and their families whose trust Burbank cultivated by shamelessly touting his own military service.  Fraud cases remain a priority for the FBI as we continue to identify and investigate those who commit financial crimes against unwitting victims.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment unsealed today[1]:

From February 2010 through June 2018, BURBANK engaged in a Ponzi-like scheme to defraud more than 150 individual investors, including many U.S. military veterans and their families, of more than $2 million by soliciting funds through false and fraudulent pretenses.  Specifically, BURBANK falsely claimed to potential investors that their funds would be used to trade in off-exchange foreign currency, namely, to purchase quantities of the Iraqi dinar, through an Iraqi bank headquartered in Bagdad.  In truth and in fact, upon receiving investor funds, BURBANK used those funds to trade in his own brokerage accounts, to make payments to earlier investors, and for his personal expenses, among other things.  Additionally, during the course of his scheme, BURBANK hid from investors the fact that he had misappropriated and lost their funds.  In order to conceal the truth from investors, BURBANK provided them false information regarding the status of their investment, and engaged in a Ponzi-like scheme in which he used money obtained from new investors to make redemption payments to previous investors.

BURBANK, 62, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney Christine I. Magdo is in charge of the prosecution.  

 

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

Press Release Number: 
18-334
Updated October 2, 2018