The Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado entered a judgment against defendants Venture Capital Investments LLC (VCI) and its principal and manager Breonna Clark d/b/a Eliot Clark d/b/a Alexander Pak (Clark), both of Denver, Colorado, for fraudulently soliciting and misappropriating funds from clients in a digital asset and forex Ponzi scheme.
The order requires VCI and Clark to pay $450,302 in restitution to defrauded clients, a civil monetary penalty of $450,302 and the CFTC’s costs. Additionally, the defendants are now permanently enjoined from engaging in conduct that violates the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations, as well as banned from registering with the CFTC and trading in any CFTC-regulated markets.
The order stems from a complaint filed on February 14, 2020. [See CFTC Release No. 8118-20] The court ruled that the defendants fraudulently solicited more than 72 clients to invest in commodity pools that purportedly trade in forex and digital assets, including bitcoin, only to then misappropriate the money. Further, the court found that the defendants lured their clients primarily by using social media, touting the ability of their purported “master team of traders” to provide consistent trading profits. The court found that the defendants misappropriated their clients’ money to acquire, among other things, a luxury automobile. The defendants also used their clients’ money to make Ponzi-type payments to others to maintain the scheme. In total, the defendants fraudulently solicited and misappropriated $450,302.
The CFTC cautions victims that restitution orders may not result in the recovery of money lost because the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets. The CFTC will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers and to ensure the wrongdoers are held accountable.
The CFTC thanks and acknowledges the assistance of the Financial Supervision Commission of Bulgaria, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Financial Services Authority, the Financial Services Authority of Seychelles, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority, and the Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand.
The Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Erica Bodin, Kevin Samuel, Kim Bruno, Michael Solinsky, and Rick Glaser.
CFTC’s Foreign Currency (Forex) Fraud Advisory
The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Foreign Currency (Forex) Trading Fraud Advisory, to help customers identify these scams.
The CFTC also strongly urges the public to verify a company’s registration with the Commission before committing funds. If unregistered, a customer should be wary of providing funds to that entity. A company’s registration status can be found using NFA BASIC.
Customers and other individuals can report suspicious activities or information, such as possible violations of commodity trading laws, to the Division of Enforcement via a toll-free hotline 866-FON-CFTC (866-366-2382) or file a tip or complaint online.