California Resident Pleads Guilty to Leading a $16 Million Investment and Commodities Fraud Scheme
California resident pled guilty today to his leading of a commodities and investment fraud scheme that yielded an aggregate amount of over $16 million in investments from victims for the purported purchase of precious metal positions and over-the-counter stock.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Ronald J. Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, and Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear, Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), made the announcement.
According to the charging and plea documents:
From 2010 to December 2011, Liberty International Financial Services, Inc. (LIFS) was an investment firm in Fort Lauderdale with brokers who solicited investors for the purchase of purported precious metals positions in gold, silver, and palladium. Christopher Anzalone, 31, was a co-founder of LIFS and was responsible for overseeing LIFS brokers. Contrary to representations made to investors by LIFS brokers, LIFS invested less than $200,000 of the approximately $4 million provided by investors for the purchase of precious metals positions.
From mid-2011 through 2013, Liberty International Holding Corporation (LIHC) was a holding corporation in Fort Lauderdale whose stock traded in the over-the-counter market. LIHC brokers solicited investors for the purchase of LIHC stock. Anzalone was the co-founder of LIHC. Anzalone represented to brokers, and had brokers represent to potential investors, that LIHC had substantial assets, including a substantial position in metals held in a Panamanian depository. In truth and in fact, as Anzalone well knew, LIHC did not hold these positons or any assets of real value. Induced by misrepresentations made by LIHC brokers, investors purchased more than $9 million in LIHC shares.
From October 2012 through October 2013, Allied Financial Strategies, Inc. (Allied) was an investment firm operating in Miami. Allied brokers solicited investors primarily for the purchase of LIHC stock. Anzalone and co-conspirators induced investors to purchase LIHC shares by falsely and fraudulently representing to investors that a hedge fund or other large investment funds intended to purchase a substantial block of LIHC shares at an over-inflated price compared to the LIHC market price of those same shares. Anzalone used co-conspirators to falsely and fraudulently pose as other investors or hedge fund representatives to induce prospective investors to invest monies. Based on these false representations by these co-conspirators, investors wired over $3 million to accounts controlled by the co-conspirators.
Anzalone is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno on March 27, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.
Mr. Ferrer thanked the FBI, USPIS, and OFR for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.