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RELEASE: pr7651-17

  • November 28, 2017

    Federal Court Orders California Residents Joseph Dufresne, Megan Renkow, and Their Companies to Pay More than $4.9 Million in Restitution and a Monetary Penalty for Fraud in Connection with Offering and Selling Futures Trading Strategies and Systems

    Washington DC — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) obtained a Consent Order against Defendants Joseph Dufresne (a/k/a/ Joseph James) and Megan Renkow (a/k/a Megan James), both of Palos Verdes Estates, California, and their companies, United Business Servicing, LLC and United Business Servicing, Inc. (collectively, United Business), doing business as SchoolofTrade.com (SoT), who were charged with fraud and other violations in connection with the offer and sale of futures trading strategies and systems.

    The Consent Order, entered by Judge John A. Kronstadt, U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California, on November 22, 2017, requires Dufresne, Renkow, and United Business jointly and severally, to pay restitution to defrauded investors totaling $3,941,157 and a $1 million civil monetary penalty.

    In addition to the monetary sanctions, Defendants are prohibited from, among other things, trading in any market regulated by the CFTC and from applying for registration or claiming exemption from registration with the CFTC in any capacity.

    The Consent Order arises from a CFTC enforcement action filed against the Defendants on September 30, 2016 (see CFTC Complaint and Press Release: 7464-16, CFTC Charges California Residents Joseph Dufresne, Megan Renkow, and Their Company, United Business Servicing, Inc., doing business as Schooloftrade.com, with Fraudulently Marketing Commodity Futures Strategies and Systems).

    In the Order, the Court finds that the Defendants engaged in a systematic pattern of materially false statements and omissions in connection with the marketing of SoT’s trading strategies and systems.

    Specifically, the Court finds that Defendants: 1) touted the profitability of SoT’s trading strategies and systems and claimed hundreds of thousands of trading profits earned every year when, in fact, none of Defendants’ accounts has ever been profitable; 2) falsely represented to customers and prospective customers that Dufresne was a successful professional trader with years of experience and numerous awards when, in fact, Dufresne has little experience, has never been professionally recognized, and has never been a profitable trader; and 3) purported to make profitable trades in live accounts in real time in SoT’s “Live Trade Room” when, in fact, none of the trades called or profits claimed to have been made in the “Live Trade Room” can be found in any of Defendants’ accounts. Additionally, the Court found that Defendants failed to prominently display in their various solicitation materials certain disclosure statements required under CFTC Regulations concerning simulated or hypothetical trading results and client testimonials.

    The CFTC cautions that Orders requiring repayment of funds to victims may not result in the recovery of any money lost because the wrongdoers many not have sufficient funds or assets. The CFTC will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers and to ensure the wrongdoers are held accountable.

    CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Maura Viehmeyer, Erica Bodin, Alan Edelman, Michael Solinsky and Rick Glaser.

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    CFTC’s Fraud Advisories, Including Trading Systems Sold on the Internet Fraud Advisory

    The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide warning signs of fraud, including the Commodity Trading Systems Sold on the Internet Advisory, which 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: November 28, 2017