BULLETIN: Florida Woman Sued Civilly, Charged Criminally In Alleged Ponzi- And Affinity-Fraud Scheme Targeted At Colombian-Americans

breakingnews72BULLETIN: The SEC has sued a Florida woman, amid allegations she swindled Colombian-Americans and other Colombians in a $4 million Ponzi scheme that duped investors into believing her purported “immigration bail bonds” program was backed by the FDIC and an “investment broker” later blamed for payout delays.

The woman — Jenny E. Coplan of Tamarac — also has been charged criminally by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida, the SEC said.

Coplan’s age is listed as 54.

“Coplan deliberately misled investors into believing their investments were safe and secure when in reality she was lining her own pockets,” said Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office.  “Her predatory scheme exploited the trust and friendship of members of her own community by using empty promises to convince them to trust her with their hard-earned savings.”

All in all, the SEC said, Coplan “raised approximately $4 million from more than 90 investors in Florida, California, Georgia, Texas, Canada, and Colombia.”

Records cited by the SEC show that Coplan controlled at least four Florida LLCs, all of which used the word “Immigration” in their names. All of the entities have been dissolved.

Elements of the case are similar to elements of the $119 million AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme case brought by the U.S. Secret Service in 2008. Like Coplan, ASD operator Andy Bowdoin was associated with various dissolved business entities in Florida. And as is the case in the allegations against Coplan, some ASD promoters claimed ASD was backed by the FDIC, suggesting money sent to the enterprise by insured.

Some promoters of TelexFree — a current HYIP scheme operating in Brazil and the United States — also have claimed that money sent to their “program” was insured, purportedly making it impossible for participants to lose money. TelexFree may be an affinity-fraud scheme initially targeted at Brazilian-Americans and Brazilians in general. The scheme now has entered many countries.

From the SEC’s complaint against Coplan (italics added):

16. Coplan, who is herself a member of the Colombian-American community, developed relationships with other Colombian-Americans and Colombian immigrants through a business she operated providing immigration services. Coplan then offered individuals the opportunity to invest in Immigration Services and the bail bond program.

17. In about June 2009, Coplan told at least one investor that this was an investment opportunity she offered to her friends and family initially, and then later opened it to everyone. Coplan also told prospective investors she wanted to help them achieve financial stability. To cultivate potential investors, Coplan sometimes mingled with investors’ friends and family members at their social gatherings. A large number of at least one investor’s friends and family members invested.

“Coplan never placed investor funds with any investment broker, and their money was never FDIC insured,” the SEC alleged.  “Instead, she paid supposed profits to earlier investors using funds from newer investors in classic Ponzi fashion, and she stole approximately $878,000 of investor money for her own personal use.”

From a statement by the SEC (italics added):

The SEC alleges that Coplan created fictitious investor statements that she disseminated to hide her misuse of the money and lead investors to believe their investments were growing.  Furthermore, Coplan e-mailed one investor two purported FDIC statements reflecting insured balances of $107,000 and $250,000, lulling the investor to think the investment was particularly safe.  When her scheme began to unravel in 2011, Coplan blamed the purported investment broker for the delay in interest payments to investors, telling them the broker held the investors’ funds to cover deficiencies because Coplan had failed to meet certain monthly investment quotas.  Even though Immigration General Services had virtually no funds in its bank accounts and was unable to honor investors’ increasing redemption requests, Coplan tried in late 2011 to create a false appearance that the company was back to business as usual.  She issued non-sufficient fund checks to investors purporting to be their monthly profits.  Through her continued misstatements, Coplan was able to raise another $578,000 from new investors before the scheme collapsed entirely.

Coplan’s investors were told they’d fetch returns of between “60 to 108 percent annually,” the SEC charged.

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