For Release: October 16, 2003
NEW YORK FOREIGN CURRENCY (FOREX) FIRM CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING MORE THAN 300 INVESTORS IN $10 MILLION COMMODITY SCAM
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Charges A.S. Templeton Group, Inc., Michael Vitebsky, and Boris Shuster With Commodity Scam; Federal District Judge Orders Assets Frozen
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that on October 1, 2003, a federal district court judge in New York, acting on a CFTC complaint filed earlier that day, issued an order freezing the assets and preventing the destruction of the books and records of defendants A.S. Templeton Group, Inc. of Staten Island, New York; Michael Vitebsky, of Bayside, New York; and Boris Shuster, also known as Robert Shuster, of Brooklyn, New York. On Wednesday, October 15, 2003, the court lifted an order that had sealed the details of the case since it was filed.
The CFTC complaint charges A.S. Templeton Group, Vitebsky, and Shuster with fraud for allegedly misappropriating customer funds in a telemarketing scam where retail customers were solicited to trade foreign currency (forex) futures contracts. The CFTC also charges the defendants with trading illegal, off-exchange forex futures contracts.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that, from December 2000 through March 2002, A.S. Templeton Group, Vitebsky, and Shuster defrauded more than 300 retail customers by misappropriating approximately $6 million of the $10 million solicited from customers. According to the complaint, instead of using customer funds for trading, the defendants misappropriated most of the funds by transferring the money to the relief defendants, Chariot Consulting, Inc., Shuster, Shuster & Shuster, Ltd., and the Winn Industries Division of Ontario, Limited (1430214 Ontario, Ltd.), and elsewhere. The court-ordered asset freeze also applies to the relief defendants to the extent they received customer funds from A.S. Templeton Group, Vitebsky, and Shuster.
In its continuing litigation in this matter, the CFTC is seeking a permanent injunction against each defendant, repayment to defrauded customers, return of all ill-gotten gains from the defendants and relief defendants, and monetary penalties for each violation of the Commodity Exchange Act.
The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Sheila L. Marhamati, Beth Morgenstern, Philip Rix, John Cipriani, Judith Slowly, Lenel Hickson, Stephen Obie, and Vincent McGonagle. In addition, Christian Green of the National Futures Association provided assistance on this case.
A copy of the CFTC complaint and restraining order may be obtained at www.cftc.gov.
Media Case Enforcement Contact:
Stephen Obie, Regional Counsel and Associate Director
CFTC Division of Enforcement
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The CFTC Has Issued A Consumer Advisory Warning the Public of the Risks of Foreign Currency Trading and Foreign Currency Scams
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