South Florida Resident Charged in Investor Fraud Scheme
A Miami-Dade County resident was charged, by Information in the Southern District of Florida, for participating in a Ponzi scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear with Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), made the announcement.
Phil D. Williamson, 48, of Palmetto Bay, was charged for his participation in a fraud scheme. The defendant was charged with Investment Advisor Fraud, in violation of Title 15, United States Code, Section 80b-6, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to the Information, Williamson misled investors into believing that he was a registered investment advisor working for a nationally recognized financial services firm. During the course of the fraud scheme, seventeen individuals invested over two million dollars with Williamson. Unbeknownst to them, Williamson was transferring their money into bank accounts in the names of two companies he owned and operated, Sterling Investment Fund, LLC (“Sterling Investment”) and Sterling Financial Partners, Inc. (“Sterling Financial”). Williamson misappropriated and misused much of the money he promised to invest. In order to conceal the fraud from investors, Williamson created false statements of account to lull investors into falsely believing that their principal was safe and generating a positive return. Williamson further lulled investors by engaging in a Ponzi scheme, paying early investors with money he received from newly solicited investors.
A complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in a companion case has charged Williamson with violations of Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and a permanent injunction against Williamson.
The OFR issued a Stipulation and Consent Agreement with Williamson involving various Florida rules and statutes to include engaging in outside business activity, selling away, unregistered activity, selling unregistered securities, a Ponzi scheme, and several counts of fraud. The OFR is seeking payment of restitution owed to investors and a permanent bar against Williamson.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and OFR. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alejandro Soto.
An Information contains mere allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
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 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 www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.