Investment Consultant Sentenced to 51 Months in Federal Prison for Running Ponzi Scheme
FORT WORTH, TX—A California man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of wire fraud stemming from a Ponzi scheme he ran that defrauded investors in North Texas and throughout the country, was sentenced today, announced John Parker, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Piyush Bachubhai Patel, 54, most recently of Clovis, California, was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and ordered to pay approximately $700,000 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor. Judge O’Connor ordered that he surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on June 30, 2015.
According to documents filed in the case, from approximately January 1, 2008 through 2013, Patel, who represented himself as an investment consultant, d/b/a Elite Financial Services and 777 Consulting Services, devised and ran a scheme in which he solicited and obtained money from victim investors. As part of his scheme, he made false representations including how their money would be invested, how much of their money would be invested, and how much money they had in their accounts.
Patel told one particular investor that he had more than 50 investors in his stock investment plan and that his investments had realized annual returns of 89% over the last three years. Based on Patel’s representations, this investor decided to invest with Patel, and wired nearly $250,000 to Patel.
After Patel received this investor’s money, he did not invest it as he stated he would. Instead, Patel used a significant portion of the money to pay personal expenses, pay down loans, and obtain cash. Patel then proceeded to lose most of the money that he did invest.
Even though Patel used a large portion of this investor’s money for personal expenses and lost more than $100,000 of it by day-trading, Patel e-mailed account statements to this investor falsely representing that the investor’s account balance had appreciated to nearly $300,000. However, on the date of those statements, there was only approximately $40,000 in the investor’s account.
Based on false account statements, this victim investor decided to invest an additional $90,000 with Patel. Once again, Patel used a large portion of the money to pay personal expenses and debts, and lost most of the money that he did invest. By February 2011, the approximate balance in the investor’s account was only $10,000.
In the following months, Patel falsely told the investor that his account balance had grown to over $470,000. In May 2011, this investor contacted Patel and advised he wanted to make an immediate $20,000 withdrawal and schedule monthly $9,000 disbursements from the account. Patel agreed to send the money as requested but advised that he could not send it until June. When the investor did not receive the money in June, he again contacted Patel. In late July 2011, Patel deposited $20,000 into this investor’s bank account, but he never sent the investor monthly disbursements. Despite repeated attempts, the investor never received any additional funds from Patel.
During the course of his scheme, Patel also solicited and obtained money from other victim investors using tactics similar to those described above. Patel also deceived these victim investors about the amount of their money that was, or would be, invested, as well as the value of their accounts.
The FBI investigated the case.