NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - The assets of a Brooklyn company and its officials have been frozen by a court order sought by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for allegedly operating a combination pyramid and Ponzi scheme.
Company officials Robert Donald and his wife Anette Stuart Donald ran Unlimited Wealth Associates, as well as numerous other businesses, from their home in Brooklyn's Bushwick section. Cuomo alleges that their pyramid and Ponzi schemes were violations of the state's securities law, known as the "Martin Act."
An investigation by Cuomo revealed that Donald fraudulently obtained at least $7 million from more than 1,000 investors nationwide through their businesses, including Unlimited Wealth Associates, United Wealth Associates, Unlimited Enterprises and Wealth Associates Group, in a series of get-rich-quick schemes.
Ponzi schemes work by paying older investors with money from newer investors while pyramid schemes see investors paid commissions or finders' fees for bringing in new investors. Records obtained by Cuomo show that Donald had been operating a series of these schemes since at least 2004, Cuomo says.
"While this company promised unlimited wealth, our investigation found seemingly limitless fraud and deceit as they went after investors' savings," Cuomo said. "We will continue to have zero tolerance for financial schemers trying to set up shop in New York."
The Donalds, according to e-mails, newsletters and Web site pages, routinely made false and misleading representations to investors that they could earn enormous profits on modest investments with little to no risk, Cuomo says. Many of the alleged false representations claimed that investments with the company would have no risk, with one claiming, "The Unlimited Wealth Units is an ingenious RISK FREE way to LET YOUR MONEY WORK FOR YOU!"
According to the investigation, Donald covered up the fraudulent activity by telling investors that their investments had either been lost of stolen by those with whom Donald purportedly invested the victims' funds. Victims were told that Donald was raising new funds to be invested so that both new and old investors would recover their prinicpal and receive handsome profits, Cuomo says.