March 21, 2014
Washington, DC — The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that Judge David D. Dowd Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio granted summary judgment and issued a Memorandum Opinion, a Judgment Entry, and a permanent injunction Order (collectively Order) against Defendants Patrick Cole of Ontario, Canada, and his company, Global Strategic Marketing, Inc. (GSM) in a CFTC enforcement action and finds that the Defendants committed fraud in connection with a multi-million dollar off-exchange foreign currency (forex) Ponzi scheme (see CFTC Release 5921-10, October 7, 2010).
The court’s Order, issued February 26, 2014, imposes disgorgement of $1,146,399 and also requires Cole and GSM to pay civil monetary penalties of $1,146,399. The Order further imposes permanent trading and registration bans on Cole and GSM, and prohibits them from violating the anti-fraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act, as charged.
Specifically, the court’s Order finds that in marketing a fraudulent forex investment program offered by another Defendant, Complete Developments, LLC (CDL), GSM recklessly made repeated false statements including claims about low risk of loss; guaranteed return of principal; high rates of return on investment; and purported experience of CDL’s forex trading team. The Order further finds that GSM made the false statements based on information from CDL principal, Defendant Kevin Harris, and that GSM did not independently verify the accuracy of that information. The Order also finds that GSM made false statements about its own conduct, including telling potential investors that GSM had done its “homework” regarding CDL, when in fact GSM had not verified the accuracy of its representations to potential investors.
The Order finds that GSM’s misrepresentations to potential investors were false, misleading, and material and that GSM’s conduct, including not conducting adequate due diligence about GSM and ignoring investor complaints, establishes that GSM acted with reckless disregard as to whether its statements to potential investors were true. The Order also finds that Cole is liable for GSM’s violations because he controlled GSM and “had actual knowledge of all of GSM’s activities at all levels with respect to CDL, and was the decision-maker regarding GSM’s activities upon which the primary violation of the Act is based.”
In May 2013, the court entered a Judgment requiring Defendants CDL, its principals and controlling persons Kevin Harris, Keelan Harris, and Karen Starr, and Defendant Investment International Inc., to pay over $23 million in civil monetary penalties and restitution in connection with this fraudulent forex Ponzi scheme (see CFTC Release 6586-13, May 13, 2013).
CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Karin N. Roth, Linda Y. Peng, Michael C. McLaughlin, R. Stephen Painter, Jr., David W. MacGregor, Lenel Hickson, Jr., and Manal M. Sultan.
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CFTC’s Foreign Currency (Forex) Fraud Advisory
The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Foreign Currency Trading (Forex) Fraud Advisory, which states that the CFTC has witnessed a sharp rise in Forex trading scams in recent years and helps customers identify this potential fraud.
Customers can report suspicious activities or information, such as possible violations of commodity trading laws, to the CFTC Division of Enforcement via a Toll-Free Hotline 866-FON-CFTC (866-366-2382) or file a tip or complaint online.
Last Updated: March 21, 2014