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Investment Scam Caused Clients to Lose More Than $3 million

A southern California commodities trader pleaded guilty in federal court in CHicago on Wednesday to pocketing a portion of his clients’ money after falsely promising a 200% return on investment.

David Bryant admitted in a plea agreement that he obtained money from investors by falsely representing that his California-based company, the Bryant Family Investment Fund LLC, had successfully generated profits of more than 200% a year. In fact, the fund hd performed no trading in its name, and the trading that Bryant did in his personal accounts – using client funds – resulted in large losses.

Bryant, 63, of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., admitted fraudulently obtaining approximately $5.1 million from investors and a financial institution , an causing a loss to investors and others of approximately $3.6 million. Some of Bryant’s personal accounts were located in Chicago.

Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater. U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennely scheduled a sentencing hearing for Jan. 18, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.

According to the plea agreement, Bryant attempted to make the scam appear legitimate by providing the victims with fraudulent documents that he created, including fictitious trading records and account statements that purported to reflect the clients’ growing investment proceeds. He further concealed the scheme by making Ponzi-type payments to other investors. Some of the money for the Ponzi payments came from a bank loan that Bryant fraudulently obtained by forging his mother’s signature on a property deed and using it as collateral for the loan, according to the plea agreement.

A Court order entered in May in the civil suit required Bryant to pay a $3 million civil monetary penalty and more than $3.08 million in restitution. The order also imposed permanent trading and registration bans on Bryant, and prohibited him from committing further violations of the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act.