Traverse City Man Charged with Fraud in Connection with Foreign Currency Trading Operation
GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Jerry M. Stauffer, 66, of Traverse City, Michigan has been indicted on charges of wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced today.
The indictment alleges that Stauffer engaged in a fraudulent scheme between 2009 and 2015, with approximately $1,500,000 in funds obtained from approximately 15 individuals living in Traverse City and elsewhere. Stauffer allegedly advised these individuals that he could earn substantial profits with invested funds by trading in fluctuations in foreign currencies. In fact, the indictment alleges, Stauffer engaged in wire fraud by using the money given to him for his own purposes, or to pay “interest” to other investors in the manner of a Ponzi scheme. A fraudulent scheme that employs an interstate communication to make it succeed is punishable under the federal wire fraud statute, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The indictment also alleges that Stauffer used a portion of the money he obtained as a result of the wire fraud scheme to purchase a boat. Any person who knowingly employs a financial institution to engage in a monetary transaction involving fraudulent proceeds over $10,000 is guilty of money laundering. The federal money laundering statute carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The indictment seeks the forfeiture of approximately $60,000 in funds previously seized by federal agents in connection with the investigation.
Stauffer was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green on for his initial appearance today and released on bond pending trial. Trial of the case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker. No trial date has yet been set. Traverse City FBI and IRS offices are investigating the case. AUSA Timothy VerHey is prosecuting it. Those who believe they may be victims but have not yet been in contact with law enforcement should contact the FBI at 231-946-7201, or IRS at 231-932-2074.
The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.