Fort Lauderdale Investment Firms Indicted for Gold Fraud
Officials from Florida companies located in the Fort Lauderdale – Miami region were charged with defrauding investors out of $16 million.
Officials at Liberty International Financial Services (LIFS) – a Fort Lauderdale investment firm – solicited investors for precious metals (gold, silver, and palladium). From 2010 to 2011, company officials at Liberty International Financial Services raised over $4 million, but they only invested $200,000 of those funds in the precious metals market. As such Liberty International’s precious metal assets did not exist.
Shortly thereafter, a related fund Liberty International Holding Corp (LIHC) told its investors to buy its shares because it had substantial assets in precious metals held in a precious metals depository in Panama – the very same assets Liberty International Financial Services was allegedly investing. Again, investor hope was drummed up through false promises. LIHC was able to convince investors to buy into more than $9 million worth of shares. LIHC then traded on the risky over-the-counter-bulletin-board (OTCBB) market from 2011 to 2013. OTCBB is a regulated trading service for over-the-counter equity securities. These are risky, small, and unstable stocks that are not part of the Nasdaq and or New York Stock Exchange.
Simultaneously, brokers at Allied Financial Strategies (a Miami firm) misrepresented LIHC’s holdings to investors. Allied convinced investors to hand over more than $3 million in wire transfers. These transfers were made into accounts controlled by the same officials at Liberty and LIFS. Again, the brokers falsely promised that LIHC had the real assets to buy out the investors out at a premium price.
The five men involved in this multi-million dollar scheme were Boynton Beach resident Jeffrey Schuler, California resident Christopher Anzalone, Oregon resident Ben Williams, California resident David Boyce and Ohio resident Jacob Bradshaw. Christopher Anzalone was the co-founder of Liberty International Financial Services. All five men were charged by the U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of Florida with investment and commodities fraud. Anzalone, however, was charged by information and he recently pled guilty. The other four, however, were indicted and could face up to 20 years in prison.
This case involves a complex web of multiple alleged white collar crimes including wire fraud and commodities fraud, which can fall under the larger umbrella of securities fraud. Securities fraud is the practice of convincing investors to make purchase or sale decisions based on false information. Commodities fraud takes place when the fraud involves marketable items that are not stocks, such as foreign currency, gold, silver, and other precious metals. Wire fraud consists of devising a scheme to obtain money under false pretenses or misrepresentations and then transmitting that via wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI have taken a renewed focus in securities and investment fraud cases such as this one. U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the country, including in Florida, have established general frauds units and sections focused on prosecuting securities and commodities fraud.
Knowing that investments and brokerage firms are a growing interest of federal investigators for white-collar crimes such as securities fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, wire fraud, and commodities fraud, it is vital you find an experienced attorney who knows his or her way around federal and state court.
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Do you need help in your case? Are you looking for a skilled attorney who can help defend you in federal or Florida state court? Please contact Attorney Tony Moss at the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to discuss any defense matters. We have locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and are prepared to help you in any way that we can.