At least 700 people in Florida were invested in real estate acquired by the Woodbridge Group of Companies until its financial collapse. The aftermath of the company’s bankruptcy filing revealed a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $1.3 billion. The company’s former CEO along with two senior executives have been arrested on federal charges of wire and mail fraud and money laundering.

Their promises of returns as high as 10% lured mostly retirees into investing money in luxury real estate purchased by the company. Woodbridge Group bought properties in wealthy locations like Beverly Hills and Aspen. By 2017, the executives had allegedly run out of money to pay original investors when new investors stopped buying in. The Securities and Exchange Commission in Miami then launched an investigation. The civil suit brought by the SEC produced a settlement requiring payment of $1 billion to compensate fraud victims.

On top of the civil settlement, the men involved must now contend with federal prosecutors. FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents executed arrest warrants for the three men. A prosecutor has called for the jailing of the former CEO prior to trial. The lawyer representing the former CEO said that his client denies criminal wrongdoing and intends to fight the charges.

Allegations about financial crimes typically involve many layers of financial transactions and records. Orlando, Florida, white-collar crimes defense lawyers may have the resources to analyze financial records and challenge accusations. A lawyer may be able to identify defense strategies to undermine conclusions made by prosecutors when documentation does not clearly support criminal charges. This effort might improve the person’s ability to win at trial or broker a plea deal that limits penalties.

Source: Insurance News Net, “Trio Of Florida Businessmen Charged With $1.3B Ponzi Scheme“, April 12, 2019