Keller Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison and Ordered to Pay $14M in Restitution for Ponzi Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas
MIDLAND – A Keller man was sentenced yesterday to 168 months in prison and ordered to pay $14,538,967.27 in restitution for operating a Ponzi scheme.
According to court documents, Marco Perez Jr., aka Sully Perez, 37, is the founder and director of Permian Basin Proppants, Inc. (PBP), a company headquartered in Midland that claims to sell proppants such as sand for fracking operations, i.e., “frac sand.” Between 2017 and 2022, Perez used PBP to perpetuate a Ponzi scheme by soliciting investor money based on misrepresentations. During this time, Perez received over $14 million from the scheme. He used most of the funds for his own personal benefit, buying property, vacations, a lavish wedding, and luxury vehicles including a Lamborghini, a Rolls-Royce, a BMW, and a Cadillac Escalade. Perez also purchased a helicopter.
Perez enticed victims to fund or invest in PBP transactions, promising substantial guaranteed returns on their investment. However, the representations Perez made were based on false and misleading promises, such as promising victims that their investments would be used to purchase frac sand at a discount and that frac sand would then be resold at a profit to fracking operations in and around the Permian Basin. Investors were promised they would receive back their entire investment plus an additional return, often within a relatively short time period. Perez rarely used the investment money to purchase frac sand or complete promised transactions. Instead, he diverted significant amounts of investor money to fund his lifestyle and keep the scheme running, such as by making payments to prior PBP investors.
On April 13, 2022, Perez pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activities.
“We will work tirelessly to prosecute fraudsters like Perez,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “His greed and total disregard for the livelihood of his victims is unconscionable. I want to thank the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for their hard work in providing some justice to Perez’ victims and trying to recoup their losses.”
“The FBI will continue to vigorously pursue scam artists, like the defendant, who convince others to entrust them with their hard-earned money, but instead use that money for personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey, FBI El Paso. “This sentence ensures that Mr. Perez Jr. is punished and sends the strong message that investment schemes don’t pay.”
The FBI and SEC investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John A. Fedock and Fidel Esparza prosecuted the case.
If you feel you have been a victim of a fraud scheme, contact the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or call 800-CALL-FBI.
Updated April 19, 2023
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud