Branford Resident Sentenced to More Than Eight Years in Prison for Operating Ponzi Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 19, 2014|
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Feisal Sharif, 43, of Branford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 100 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of more than $3.6 million.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately 2003 to September 2012, Sharif ran an investment fraud scheme through First Financial LLC, a firm he operated out of his Branford residence. As part of the scheme, Sharif convinced numerous individuals to give him money to invest in what they believed was a commodity pool to profit from trading in commodity futures. In an effort to make investors believe that their money was safely invested and earning a sizeable return, Sharif regularly made monthly payments to investors, falsely claiming the payments represented returns on their investments. He also supplied investors with monthly statements from First Financial that falsely reported the purported balances of their investments and their rate of return on the investments.
In fact, Sharif was mostly paying existing investors with new money he raised from other investors. Very little of the investment money he raised was used to trade in commodity futures, and what he did invest in commodity futures did not generate returns anywhere near those he reported to investors. In addition, a review of First Financial’s bank records revealed that from 2006 to 2012, Sharif took more than $500,000 by way of ATM withdrawals, ATM transfers, or checks made payable to himself. Sharif also made hundreds of other bank transfers unrelated to any investments for various personal expenses.
Through this scheme, Sharif defrauded more than 70 investors of more than $3.6 million. Sharif’s victims included relatives, friends, and people he knew through their common connection with a religious institution. Many of these individuals lost substantial portions of their life savings as a result of the scheme.
Sharif was ordered to pay restitution of $3,682,930.84.
On August 27, 2013, Sharif pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by a commodity pool operator and and one count of wire fraud.
Sharif was ordered to report to prison on May 1, 2014.
In a related proceeding, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today barred Sharif from associating with any broker, dealer, or investment adviser as a result of his conduct giving rise to his conviction in the criminal matter.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. U.S. Attorney Daly also acknowledged the assistance of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the State of Connecticut Department of Banking. The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Murphy.
Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll-free, 855-236-9740, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.