CFTC Charges Two In Alleged Calif. Ponzi Scheme

May 25 2010 | 11:43am ET

Federal regulators say they have broken up yet another multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme, this one passing itself off as a successful commodity trading adviser.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has charged a pair of California men with defrauding investors in their New Golden Investment Group of about $3.65 million. Promising clients—some 165 of them, primarily Spanish-speakers in the Los Angeles area—that they’d double their money investing in oil, gold, silver and other commodities, Ruben Gonzalez and Jose Naranjo allegedly pocketed much of the money, never actually buying a single contract.

According to the CFTC, Gonzalez and Naranjo fit the Ponzi schemer cliché, spending client money on such necessities as a luxury car, as well as plane tickets and their mortgages.

In addition to the CFTC charges, Gonzalez, who was already jailed on illegal immigration charges, has been hit with criminal mail and wire fraud charges.

The regulator has already won an emergency freeze of Gonzalez and Naranjo’s assets, as well as those of West Covina, Calif.-based New Golden. The CFTC is seeking the return of ill-gotten gains, restitution and civil monetary penalties.

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