As Was Case With DFRF Enterprises And Rojo Filho, YouTube Promos Played Role In Criminal Ponzi Prosecution Of The Achieve Community’s Troy Barnes

From a 2014 YouTube promo for The Achieve Community. Authorship is unclear.

From a 2014 YouTube promo for The Achieve Community. Authorship is unclear.

Still promoting your securities scam on YouTube?

As the PP Blog reported on Oct. 3, YouTube promos for the alleged DFRF Enterprises’ Ponzi scheme were cited in two of three wire-fraud counts against accused operator Daniel Fernandes Rojo Filho. Filho, allegedly at the helm of a fraud that gathered tens of millions of dollars, has been in federal custody since his July 21 arrest in Boca Raton, Fla.

The office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts is prosecuting the Filho criminal case, and the SEC simultaneously is prosecuting a civil case. The SEC has warned for years about securities scams spreading on social media.

It turns out that YouTube videos also are playing a role in the criminal prosecution for wire fraud and wire-fraud conspiracy of Troy Barnes of The Achieve Community — or TAC. That prosecution was announced Nov. 3 by the office of U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina.

Among other things, the indictment against Barnes alleges that “YouTube communications” played a role in duping Achieve participants and therefore constituted part of a wire-fraud conspiracy.

Barnes, 53, resided in Riverview, Mich. He is free on bond, pending trial. In addition to the conspiracy count against him, Barnes also faces three counts of wire fraud for three transactions in 2014 involving the purchase of Achieve “positions” by victims, according to the indictment.

“By the time the scheme collapsed in February 2015, the conspirators had defrauded over 10,000 investors in the Charlotte-area and worldwide, and owed victim-investors at least $51 million in purported investment returns, yet only had available approximately $2.6 million,” prosecutors said. “According to court records, over the course of the scheme, Barnes used over $140,000 of the victims’ money for his own enrichment.”

Barnes co-conspirator was Kristi Johnson, 60, who resided in Aurora, Colo., prosecutors said. She has already pleaded guilty to wire-fraud conspiracy and is scheduled for sentencing  Nov. 19, before U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr.

Achieve offered a 700 percent ROI, according to the SEC and federal prosecutors. Barnes and Johnson also face a civil action by the SEC.

In December 2014, the PP Blog reported that Achieve boosters parroting each other were circulating a YouTube promo that read, “We are not investing in a stock or buying shares in a company. We are using our God given universal right to spend our money the way we want. We choose not to sell out to the banking system for their tiny little 1% annual return.”

Said Rose’s office on Tuesday: “According to court filings, as the scheme grew in size and scope, Barnes and his conspirators concealed the true nature of the scheme through multiple misrepresentations.  According to court records, when the conspirators became concerned that the use of the term ‘investment’ would draw scrutiny from regulators, they instructed victim-investors that ‘We ARE NOT an INVESTMENT program, please don’t use that term when you speak or post about our re-purchase strategy.'”

Scammers from AdSurfDaily in 2008 tried the same tactic. It backfired, as it later would do with Achieve and other “programs,” including Zeek Rewards.

Among other things, Achieve claimed $50 turned into $400. The U.S. Secret Service brought the Achieve criminal case and the ASD prosecution. ASD was a 1-percent-a-day “program.”

The PP Blog’s Achieve coverage received a mention Nov. 3 in the Charlotte Observer. See the Blog’s archive of Achieve Community references.

UPDATE 7:22 P.M. ET U.S.A. Scheduled for sentencing Nov. 19, Kristi Johnson today asked the court for a sentencing delay. Specifics were filed under seal. This is from a motion on the public record (italics added):

1. Pursuant to Local Rule of Criminal Procedure 55.1, Ms. Johnson respectfully requests this Court to seal the Joint Motion to Continue Sentencing because it contains sensitive information regarding a criminal investigation.

2. Public dissemination of the Joint Motion to Continue Sentencing may interfere with the administration of justice. Therefore, there is good cause for the Court to seal said motion.

NOTE: Our thanks to the ASD Updates Blog.


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One Response to “As Was Case With DFRF Enterprises And Rojo Filho, YouTube Promos Played Role In Criminal Ponzi Prosecution Of The Achieve Community’s Troy Barnes”

  1. Story above updated to reflect that Kristi Johnson today asked for a delay in her sentencing, currently scheduled for Nov. 19.