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May 2020 Ponzi Scheme Roundup

June 05, 2020 (3 min read)

Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Below is a summary of the activity reported for May 2020. The reported stories reflect at least 5 new Ponzi schemes worldwide; at least 2 guilty pleas and convictions; and an average age of approximately 59 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed.  

Neil Burkholz, 82, and Frank Bianco, 70, of Florida, were ordered to pay $2.8 million in disgorgement and penalties in connection with a $6 million Ponzi scheme run through Palm Financial Management and Shore Management Systems. The scheme defrauded at least 55 investors and targeted elderly investors.

Damon Elliott and Piptastic Ltd. were accused by the SEC of raising around $9 million from at least 30 investors. Elliot is a U.K. citizen and falsely promised American investors that their funds would be invested in spread trading or spreadbet trading, which involves speculating on the price movement of a security or other financial instrument.

William S. Evans III was charged by the CFTC in connection with an alleged $10 million Ponzi-like scheme. The scheme was run through Turning Point Investments and took money from 15 investors to trade commodity futures.

Mark George, an Ohio lawyer, had his license suspended indefinitely by the Ohio Supreme Court. George spent 16 months in prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme that promised returns from oil and gas investments.

Todd H. Lahr, 60, of Pennsylvania, an attorney who pleaded guilty last month to participating in a $2.7 million Ponzi scheme, was disbarred. Lahr told investors and clients of his law practice that he would use their money to invest in business opportunities around the world, including mining companies in Papua New Guinea and properties in London and Barcelona. He gave some investors promissory notes with a 10% return and gave others shares of his company, THL Holdings.

Casper Mikkelson aka Carsten Nielson was charged by the CFTC with running a fraudulent foreign exchange firm. Mikkelson allegedly ran the scheme with Brian Thomson, Thomas Jensen and Casper Muller through a retail foreign currency exchange trading firm called GNTFX. Mikkelson issues false statements to investors showing up to 55% returns in less than one year.

Ronald J. Roach, 53, and Joseph W. Bayliss, 44, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the $2 billion Ponzi scheme run through DC Solar. Roach provided accounting and tax services to the solar energy company and years of false financial statements. Bayliss was a general contractor and electrician who provided services to the company and who signed false reports and destroyed evidence.

Paul Horton Smith Sr., 56, of California was charged by the SEC in connection with an alleged $5.6 million Ponzi scheme run through his companies, Northstar Communications, eGate and Planning Services. Smith offered 75 people an investment that he represented was safer than the stock market, and he promised returns of between 3% and 10.5%.

Lee D. Weiss, 51, of Massachusetts, was charged in connection with a $10 million scheme. Weiss is an investment advisor. Weiss is an investment advisor and the principal of Family Endowment Partners, LP, and he purportedly defrauded his own clients by promising them returns from investments in a Florida tobacco company and private securities offerings.



Authorities have accused Monita Hung Mui Chan, Sabrina Ling Huei Wei, Justin Colin Villarin, Marie Joy Vincent, and James Bernard Law of raising money for and promoting a U.S. Ponzi scheme run through DFRF Enterprises LLC in Massachusetts and Florida. The scheme was orchestrated by Daniel Rojo Fernandes Filho, a Brazilian national. The scheme raised about $15 million from more than 1,400 investors around the world.


Wang Wenjun and 15 others were arrested in connection with alleged fraud run though a group of companies, including Eaton Corporation, Polylion platform, and E-tong mall.

Wotoken was revealed as a $1 billion cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme with links to PlusToken. The scheme took in funds from more than 715,000 victims.


Anthony Jon Domingo Armstrong-Emery, 41, defrauded 850 investors out of £23,000 through a scheme run by EcoHouse Developments Ltd. The scheme claimed to be selling affordable social housing in South America. EcoHouse claimed to be part of a legitimate government project called Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life), aimed at moving families from shanty towns to homes with water and electricity.


Authorities believe that Ecocash, a subsidiary of Cassava Smrtech, is engaged in a Ponzi scheme.