WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A Puerto Rico resident and his company were accused Tuesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission with conducting a Ponzi scheme.
The alleged scheme targeted evangelical Christians and factory workers in Puerto Rico. The SEC filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
The complaint alleges that Ricardo Bonilla Rojas, 53 of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and his firm Shadai Yire, which Bonilla formed in 2001, raised at least $7 million from as many as 200 investors living primarily in Puerto
Rojas, allegedly, actively solicited investors through personal discussions with individuals both over the phone and in person, and he also allegedly marketed the investment opportunity in presentations to evangelical Christian groups and factory workers who were often inexperienced investors.
Rojas falsely assured investors that their principal contributions were "100 percent guaranteed" and promised returns up to 50 percent, telling them he would invest their money in commodities, according to the SEC communique. But, according to the complaint, Rojas never actually invested any money in commodities and instead used new contributions to repay earlier investors in classic Ponzi scheme fashion and stole $700,000 for himself.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico also announced criminal charges against Rojas.