Tag Archives: forex fraud

CFTC Charges Former Hawaii Resident in Forex and Futures Ponzi Scheme

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii against Gregory Demetrius Bryant, Jr., formerly of Hawaii, for fraudulent solicitation, misappropriation, operation of an unlawful commodity pool, and failure to register with the CFTC.

According to the complaint, Bryant fraudulently solicited approximately $426,000 from at least 35 participants for pooled futures and foreign currency (forex) trading—misappropriating at least $356,000 to pay personal expenses, including international travel, shopping, and rent, as well as at least $66,000 to make Ponzi payments to conceal and further his fraudulent scheme.

Case Background

The complaint alleges that since approximately September 2016 through at least June 2020, Bryant—while using the alias “Gregory Surrey England,” purported president of the nonexistent company “Surrey Libor Capital, LLC”—falsely guaranteed monthly futures and forex trading returns of $6,000 to $8,000 in some instances and 60 percent to 80 percent in other instances. It is further alleged that Bryant made numerous false statements to prospective and current pool participants about his trading experience, his trading success, and being registered with the National Futures Association. According to the complaint, Bryant also failed to tell pool participants that he was a convicted criminal with a history of financial problems, including three bankruptcies.

Rather than trade futures and forex as he represented in his solicitations, Bryant, as alleged, misappropriated the vast majority of pool funds for personal expenses and to make purported “returns” to pool participants. Bryant further concealed his fraud and misappropriation of pool participants’ funds by falsely telling them their accounts were “in great shape,” to expect returns or disbursements soon, and/or that his business was being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks restitution, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations, as charged.

The CFTC acknowledges and thanks the National Futures Association, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii for their assistance.

The Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Elsie Robinson, Rachel Hayes, Jenny Chapin, Jeff Le Riche, Christopher Reed, Charles Marvine, and former staff member Jo Mettenburg.

CFTC’s Commodity Pool and Forex Fraud Advisories

The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Commodity Pool Fraud Advisory and the Forex Fraud Advisory, which alert customers these types of fraud and list simple ways to spot them.

The CFTC also strongly urges the public to verify a company’s or individual’s registration with the CFTC before committing funds. If unregistered, a customer should be wary of providing funds to that company or individual. A company’s or individual’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), file a tip or complaint online, or contact the Whistleblower Office. Whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected paid from the Customer Protection Fund financed through monetary sanctions paid to the CFTC by violators of the CEA. 

Investigators turn attention to second forex fraud in Dubai

Investigators turn attention to second forex fraud in Dubai

As the man behind a Dh50 million forex scheme that promised to double investors’ money is arrested for a second time, investigators are now turning their attention to a second forex fraud believed to have snared thousands of Emirates crew.

Sydney Lemos, who investors claim was the protagonist in the Exential operation run from Media City, has been rearrested and is in police custody, according to lawyers. He is accused of leading a team of sellers promising 120 per cent returns on US$20,000 accounts invested in foreign currencies. The bogus Exential trading scheme was shut down by the Economic Development Department last year.

Private investigators at UK firm Carlton Huxley, who are working on behalf of 30 clients – most of whom Emirates cabin crew – claim a second fund offering similar returns could have more victims.

UTMarkets is a UK-run website with offices in Bulgaria offering investors the chance to trade Forex and other commodities.“Our lead investigators have established that some people involved in Exential may also be connected with UTMarkets,” said John Rynne, a director of Carlton Huxley. “Carlton Huxley has been retained by a number of clients to look into the conduct of those involved in UTMarkets. “We are working with the Bulgarian law firm New Balkan Law Office along with authorities in the UK and Bulgaria.” The UTMarkets website makes similar profit promises to those of Exential, which left thousands devastated by debt.

The site, which remains active, offers an “unparalleled mix of forex and commodities brokerage services that’s easy to use and completely secure”.

Fraud investigators said the UTMarkets scheme developed quickly through recommendations among airline workers in late 2015 and early last year as Exential started to collapse.

“We have grounds to believe there are about 6,000 UTMarkets victims, 95 per cent of whom work for Emirates airline,” said one of the UK investigators, who has visited Dubai several times to interview account holders of both schemes. “We are keeping the legal department of Emirates informed and have identified people who appear to have been actively involved with Exential who are also involved in UTMarkets.”

Several UTMarkets account managers were approached for comment, but none responded. Asif, an Emirates ground crew employee from India who has been in Dubai for 11 years, borrowed about Dh110,000 to invest in UTMarkets in January 2016. He earns Dh15,000 a month.

He was paid about Dh7,000 a month for five months, but was encouraged to reinvest most of that by relationship managers working from an office in Sofia, Bulgaria. “I had heard of Exential for years, but had not invested,” he said. I was hoping to plan for my future with my wife, and heard Exential account holders were having problems, so invested with UTMarkets instead. They were offering almost twice as much in monthly returns. “My friends and colleagues at Emirates persuaded me that UTMarkets was a better investment.”

He claims many who lost out through Exential ploughed more money from loans and credit cards into the UTMarkets funds in an attempt to recover their initial deposits. Asif, who took no financial advice before handing over the cash, said he is owed about Dh84,500 from UTMarkets and was kept informed by his relationship managers via a What’sApp group that is no longer posting. “One of my friends has invested $30,000, another $50,000,” he said. “There are a lot of people in Dubai with big financial commitments to this. The conversation with UTMarkets stopped when they stopped paying out each month. The account managers have all now disappeared. It’s hard to know if the trading information they were giving us was real, or fake.” Carlton Huxley is planning a series of free to attend educational seminars later this year in Dubai to warn about the dangers of investing in similar schemes.