POSTAL INSPECTORS: Ponzi Scheme Targeted Filipino Community In New York; Razel Canedo Arrested In Atlantic City In ‘Nanny’ Ponzi Scheme

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re keeping a “Bubba Blue” notebook on the ways to have a Ponzi scheme as opposed to having shrimp, here’s one you might want to list: an alleged “Nanny” Ponzi scheme.

In yet another case that couples Ponzi and affinity fraud, Razel Canedo was charged with targeting Filipino immigrants in Greater New York City in an alleged $1 million scheme that sold promissory notes by suggesting the proceeds would be used to pay expenses of nannies and nurses from the Philippines who wanted to work in the United States.

The scheme also used religious references, prosecutors said.

Canedo, 41, was charged with mail fraud and wire fraud. She was arrested in Atlantic City. Investigators said she used the aliases of “Razel Torres” and “Razel Agravante,” while operating companies known as “Lady of Lourdes” and “K&K Nannies.”

But Candeo did not invest the victims’ money in Lady of Lourdes or K&K Nannies, prosecutors said. Instead, she put the “bulk” of it in “overseas bank accounts or deposited it into domestic accounts and withdrew it as cash.”

“Ponzi schemes often target religious or ethnic groups to defraud them of their hard earned money,” said Ronald J. Verrochio, inspector-in-charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the community, the Postal Inspectors will combat these frauds to protect everyone in our community from falling victim.”

As often is the case in Ponzi schemes, investors were promised huge returns.

“Candeo told investors that they would earn a return on their investment of anywhere from 3 percent per month to 50 percent per year,” prosecutors said. “[She] told victims that the money invested in Lady of Lourdes would be used to pay for training, immigration expenses, and placement services for nurses from the Phillipines who wanted to work in the United States, and that the money invested in K&K Nannies would be used to pay for similar services for aspiring nannies.”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the scheme was reprehensible.

“Razel Canedo preyed on members of the Filipino-American community who invested their hard-earned money into what they later learned was merely Canedo’s bank accounts,” Bharara said. “We will continue to work with our partners at the U.S. Postal Inspection
Service to pursue financial fraud and vindicate its victims.”

Some investors’ received payouts to sustain the deception, and others received checks that bounced, prosecutors said.

In recent affinity-fraud cases, former Christian Radio host Pat Kiley was implicated by the SEC and the CFTC in an alleged $190 million fraud in Minnesota. Also charged in the case was Trevor Cook.

Milton Retana of Huntington Park, Calif., was convicted in a Ponzi scheme that targeted Latinos. Investigators found $3.2 million in cash in the back of a religious bookstore owned by Retana’s wife.

Meanwhile, John Farahi, a host on Persian-language radio in Greater Los Angeles, was charged by the SEC of operating a financial scheme targeted at Iranian-Americans.

Investors were told they were investing in FDIC-insured certificates of deposit, government bonds or corporate bonds issued by companies backed by funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Elsewhere, Gregg T. Rennie pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts to 13 counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. He potentially faces decades in prison and fines in the millions of dollars.

Rennie hosted a radio show known as “Your Money” and targeted Christian listeners, prosecutors said.

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