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Banking and Finance

Florida Woman Gets 9-Year Sentence for $25 Million Ponzi Scheme

 A Florida woman whose company promised weekly returns of up to 50% will spend the next nine years in prison after pleading guilty to running an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Jenifer Hoffman, 51, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and filing a false tax return. She is the last of three defendants to be sentenced for their role in Assured Capital Consultants ("ACC"), with co-defendant John Boschert receiving a nine-year sentence and co-defendant Bryan Zuzga receiving a six-year sentence. Hoffman was also ordered to pay $10.6 million in restitution to defrauded victims.

Hoffman and Boschert operated ACC, telling investors that they could expect fantastic weekly returns of up to 50% through an offshore confidential trading program that purportedly invested in lots of medium-term notes. Potential investors were told that the notes were safe and guaranteed, and that their funds were protected in an ACC escrow account that was controlled by escrow agent and attorney Zuzga. Investors were also provided with supporting bank documentation and a verification letter notarized by Zuzga which purportedly demonstrated that ACC had $500 million in an account at a Panamanian bank. In total, more than 100 investors entrusted at least $25 million on these promises.

However, the investment program described by Hoffman and Buschert was pure fiction. Zuzga was not an attorney, nor did ACC have $500 million at a Panamanian bank. Instead, ACC was a classic Ponzi scheme that paid "returns" to old investors through investments by new investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil enforcement action against the trio in September 2013, and criminal charges followed a year later. Boschert was sentenced to a nine-year term in June, while Zuzga received his six-year sentence in September.

Victim losses are estimated at approximately $10 million. Both Hoffman and Buschert have had their homes forfeited and sold towards their restitution obligations, with the sales bringing in nearly $900,000 for victims. 

 For more news and analysis of Ponzi schemes, visit Ponzitracker, a blog by Jordan Maglich, an attorney at Wiand Guerra King P.L.

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