SEC Charges Operator of Ponzi Scheme That Claimed to Offer “Bridge Loans” to Jamaican Businesses
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former Boston resident with operating a $10 million Ponzi scheme that claimed to generate profits from “bridge loans” to businesses in Jamaica.
The SEC complaint charges former Boston resident Mark A. Jones, who now lives in Miami and has a second home in Jamaica. Jones was arrested Sunday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts filed related criminal charges against him on Monday.
According to the SEC complaint filed in federal court in Boston:
- Jones began soliciting investors starting around 2007 and said their money would be pooled and used for “bridge loans” to Jamaican businesses awaiting funds from approved commercial bank loans. Jones told investors the bridge loans would generate approximately 15 percent to 20 percent interest a year.
- Jones raised about $10 million from at least 21 investors in six states and Washington, D.C., including three of his own relatives.
- Jones appeared in YouTube videos touting investment opportunities in Jamaica and met with some investors in Jamaica to show local projects they had purportedly funded.
- Jones used investors’ money to pay other investors – the hallmark of a Ponzi scheme. He also used some investors’ money to pay his personal expenses.
- Many of those that Jones defrauded are retirees who are now in financial straits because of their investments with him.
“We allege that Jones enticed investors with the idea that they were investing in loans to Jamaican businesses that already had been approved for bank loans. Instead, we charge that Jones used investor money for other purposes, including making payments in Ponzi scheme fashion,” said Paul G. Levenson, Director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office.
The SEC obtained a court order on Tuesday freezing Jones’s assets and an order to repatriate investor funds that were moved overseas. The SEC's complaint seeks a permanent injunction, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains with interest, and penalties.
The SEC appreciates the assistance of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by J. Lauchlan Wash, Xinyue Angela Lin, Sofia Hussain, Frank Huntington, and Amy Gwiazda of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office. Mr. Huntington will lead the SEC’s litigation.