Nevin Shapiro, Florida Man Who Ran ‘Grocery’ Ponzi Scheme, Pleads Guilty; Feds Say Con Gathered At Least $880 Million While Fraudster Leased Mercedes For $4,700 A Month

When Nevin Shapiro was arrested in New Jersey for running a wholesale grocery scam in Florida, the FBI described the scheme as a “perfect example of greed run amok.”

Shapiro, who was charged both criminally and civilly earlier this year after investigators uncovered his long-running Ponzi scheme, now has pleaded guilty to securities fraud and money-laundering.

Shapiro, 41, once was a prominent Miami Beach businessman. His Ponzi scheme began in 2005 and eventually mushroomed to nearly the size of convicted Fort Lauderdale Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein’s $1.2 billion fraud.

Florida has been plagued by Ponzi schemes.

Rothstein, a disbarred attorney, was sentenced earlier this year to 50 years in federal prison. Shapiro faces up to 30 years in prison when sentenced in January. His scheme netted at least $880 million.

Shapiro spent about $26,000 per month on mortgage payments on his $5.3 million residence in Miami Beach, while directing about $7,250 per month for payments on a $1.5 million dollar Riviera yacht and roughly $4,700 per month for the lease of a Mercedes-Benz, prosecutors said

Viewed on a yearly basis, the payments on the residence, yacht and car alone consumed more than $450,000 — and yet Shapiro’s purported business produced no sales.

Earlier this year, a veteran FBI agent said the Shapiro case was about naked greed that preyed on “unsuspecting investors.”

“This case is a perfect example of greed run amok,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward.

Although purportedly in the business of buying groceries in a lower-priced market and selling them wholesale in markets in which they would fetch higher prices, Shapiro’s company largely was a mirage that conducted virtually no legitimate business after 2004 and sustained itself by paying investors with the money of other investors, prosecutors said.

The case was brought by elements of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

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