Washington, D.C. - The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced the filing of a civil enforcement action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida against 10 defendants in a multi-level $4.75 million off-exchange foreign currency (forex) Ponzi scheme.
The complaint charges Florida resident Avinash Singh with fraudulently soliciting and misappropriating funds through a master commodity pool Highrise Advantage, LLC. Florida residents Daniel Cologero and Randy Rosseau as well as New Jersey resident Hemraj Singh were also charged with fraudulently soliciting funds from clients forHighrise through the commodity pools they operated, Green Knight Investments, LLC, Bull Run Advantage, LLC, and King Royalty, LLC. The complaint also charges Florida resident Surujpaul Sahdeo and his company SR&B Enterprises with unlawfully soliciting, accepting, and feeding client funds to Highrise.
On September 16, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Carlos E. Mondoza signed a statutory restraining order freezing the assets of Singh, Highrise, Green Knight, Bull Run, King Royalty, and SR&B. The order also prohibits the destruction or concealment of the defendants' books and records.
'As alleged, these bad actors lied to participants about the use of the funds entrusted to them for forex trading,' said Division of Enforcement Director James McDonald. 'The enforcement action filed today demonstrates the CFTC's continued commitment to rooting out fraud in our markets.'
The complaint alleges that beginning in or around February 2013 and continuing to the present, the defendants accepted at least $4.75 million from over 150 victims. In soliciting potential victims to participate in Highrise, Avinash Singh falsely claimed to be a successful commodities trader with a track record of positive gains and no losses. Cologero, Hemraj Singh, and Rosseau also allegedly misrepresented the profits Highrise had generated-as well as the potential risk of loss in Highrise-when soliciting funds for their scheme.
The complaint alleges that of the at least $4.75 million accepted, Avinash Singh and Highrise traded only a combined amount of $1,656,000 in forex and misappropriated at least $3 million of victims' funds to pay personal expenses, to transfer to other defendants, and to make Ponzi-type payments to other victims.
Highrise, Green Knight, Bull Run, and King Royalty each issued monthly account statements to their victims that misrepresented their profits and balances. The complaint further alleges that SR&B received at least $1,350,000 in funds from victims in its own name and then transferred this money to Highrise to fund a forex account.
The complaint further charges all defendants with failing to register with the CFTC as required and with violating other regulatory requirements relating to the operation of commodity pools.
In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks full restitution to defrauded victims, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, as charged, and permanent registration and trading bans.
The CFTC acknowledges and thanks the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authorityand the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for its assistance in this matter.
The Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this action are Cristina Covarrubias, Joy H. McCormack, Stacie Pan, Susan B. Padove, Elizabeth M. Streit, Scott R. Williamson, and Robert T. Howell.
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CFTC's Forex Fraud Advisory
The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Commodity Pool Fraud Advisory, which warns customers about a type of fraud that involves individuals and firms, often unregistered, offering investments in commodity pools, and the 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.