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Thursday, January 5, 2023

DOJ: Arizona Man Defrauded Shoppers, Used $13M in Funds to Purchase Metals

An Arizona-based man allegedly presupposed to be an funding advisor and raised almost $20 million from shoppers, spending greater than $13 million of these funds on shopping for gold, silver and different metals as an alternative of investing, based on costs from the Division of Justice (DOJ).

John Lopez lives in Flagstaff, however was arraigned this week on a 27-count indictment in New Mexico federal courtroom, together with 16 counts of wire fraud and 11 counts of mail fraud, based on the Justice Division. He was indicted on Dec. 20.

In keeping with the indictment, Lopez was the founder and president of Private Cash Administration Firm (PMMCO), and had no workers. Starting in 2014, Lopez started touting himself as an funding advisor “with appreciable experience who may constantly and considerably beat the market common on return of investments” by way of primarily promoting shares and bonds.

Between February 2014 and November 2021, Lopez acquired about $19.4 million in belongings from shoppers, lots of whom have been retired or have been nearing retirement. In keeping with the indictment, Lopez promised assured annual returns of 10% (no matter market volatility), and that he’d get an annualized 19.2% return on a retirement funding.

“Lopez falsely advised varied shoppers and potential shoppers that he had developed a pc program or algorithm that resulted in constant and substantial above-average market returns on investments,” the indictment learn.

Nevertheless, as an alternative of investing the belongings into the promised shares and bonds, Lopez purchased $13.3 million in “treasured metals,” together with gold and silver, whereas disbursing about $6.1 million from the belongings to shoppers, which he falsely mentioned have been “funding positive aspects,” based on the DOJ.

After telling shoppers that he’d place their funds in particular person Charles Schwab brokerage accounts he would handle, Lopez additionally lied concerning the efficiency of the funds, falsely representing the worth of their investments in month-to-month or quarterly paperwork accomplished up as account statements, based on the Justice Division. 

In a single occasion, a consumer obtained an account assertion exhibiting that his $200,000 funding had supposedly grown to greater than $3.289 million, a 1,544% improve over 5 years. In the identical time interval, an funding within the S&P 500 would have jumped by solely about 104%, based on the DOJ.

Ahmad Assed, Joel R. Meyers and Shaheen Torgoley, attorneys representing Lopez, disputed the allegations, together with his counsel noting Lopez was in his seventies and had by no means been arrested, not to mention charged with against the law.

“He seems ahead to a possibility to clear his identify in courtroom, not defend himself towards selective leaks from the federal government brokers within the courtroom of public opinion,” they mentioned in an announcement to WealthManagement.com. “Mr. Lopez maintains that his precedence has all the time been and can proceed to be the monetary well-being of his clientele.”

The account statements positioned PMMCO’s whole consumer account values at about $39 million in October of final yr, however on Nov. 9 and 10, authorities brokers seized the corporate’s belongings, discovering largely metals with a worth under $15 million. However Lopez continued to create false account statements even after PMMCO’s belongings have been seized, representing consumer account values at about $49 million in Could 2022, based on the DOJ.

Lopez faces as a lot as 20 years in jail if convicted.

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