FEDERAL COURT FREEZES ASSETS OF FIVE FLORIDA FOREIGN CURRENCY (FOREX) BOILER ROOMS AND FIVE INDIVIDUALS CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING CUSTOMERS OF OVER $17 MILLION
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Charges Fraudulent Solicitation of Customers to Trade Foreign Currency Options Contracts By Defendants World Market Advisors, Inc., U.S. Capital Management, Inc., United Equity Group, Inc., Liberty One Advisors, LLC, Lighthouse Capital Management, LLC, Jason T. Dean, Steven D. Knowles, Paul F. Plunkett, Joseph D. Valko and Jeffrey Paul Jedlicki; Universal Options, Inc., Qualified Leverage Providers, Inc. and Safeguard FX, LLC Also Charged With Liability As Principals
Complaint Charges More Than 96 Percent of Customers Lost Money While Paying Defendants $8.6 Million in Commissions
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that it filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against five Florida foreign currency firms, World Market Advisors, Inc. (WMA), U.S. Capital Management, Inc. (U.S. Capital), United Equity Group, Inc. (United Equity), Liberty One Advisors, LLC (Liberty One), Lighthouse Capital Management, LLC (Lighthouse), and five individuals, Jason T. Dean of Pompano Beach, Florida, Steven D. Knowles and Paul F. Plunkett of Deerfield Beach, Florida, Joseph D. Valko of Coconut Creek, Florida and Jeffrey Paul Jedlicki of Boca Raton, Florida, charging that defendants defrauded customers they solicited to trade foreign currency options contracts. The complaint also charges three Florida-based foreign currency dealers, Universal Options, Inc. (Universal Options), Qualified Leverage Providers, Inc. (QLP) and Safeguard FX, LLC (Safeguard), with liability as principals for the acts of the five foreign currency firms.
The CFTC complaint alleges that since October 2002, WMA and a series of short-lived affiliates and successors, including the other corporate defendants, through their brokers, including Jedlicki, violated the federal commodity antifraud laws while operating as a common enterprise, by fraudulently soliciting customers over the telephone throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, using high-pressure “boiler room” sales tactics, to open accounts to trade foreign currency options contracts. According to the complaint, the brokers misrepresented the customers’ likelihood of making profits, and the risk of loss in trading options, while failing to disclose material facts concerning their losing trading record and a disciplinary action by the National Futures Association against Jedlicki for making deceptive and misleading sales solicitations and using high-pressure sales tactics while employed at another brokerage firm.
The complaint further alleges that defendants solicited at least 924 customers, who collectively invested at least $17.1 million to trade foreign currency options contracts. The customers paid defendants at least $8.6 million in commissions, and lost approximately $13.6 million in their trading accounts, according to the complaint. Over 96 percent of the customers lost money, and most customers lost all of their investments. As alleged, Dean, Knowles, Plunkett, and Valko were officers and directors or managers of the entities comprising the common enterprise, and they are charged in the complaint with liability for the alleged violations. Universal Options, QLP and Safeguard allegedly acted as principals of other defendants, and are charged with liability for their agents’ alleged violations.
Gregory G. Mocek, CFTC Director of Enforcement, stated:
The Commission’s crackdown on South Florida boiler rooms continues with the filing of this case – the fifth in as many weeks – charging telephone solicitors and their firms with using phony sales pitches to pressure customers to trade commodity futures or options. Most firms charged have deplorable trading track records: between 85 percent and 98 percent of the customers lost all their money. Despite those terrible statistics, the firms and their salesmen reaped huge profits from commissions and fees. Our message to these unscrupulous salesmen is clear: we’re coming after you and will take away your ill-gotten gains. Our message to prospective customers is equally clear: be very careful when responding to telephone sales pitches to trade commodity futures and options, and take time to learn about the opportunity offered before you part with your funds.
U.S. District Judge Enters Orders Freezing Assets, Protecting Books and Records, and Preliminarily Enjoining Certain Parties
On the day the complaint was filed, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga issued a restraining order prohibiting all defendants from destroying documents and from denying CFTC staff access to books and records. The restraining order also freezes the assets of all defendants except Universal Options, QLP and Safeguard.
Also on June 23, 2005, Judge Altonaga entered an order of preliminary injunction against WMA, U.S. Capital, United Equity, Liberty One and Lighthouse. Judge Altonaga set a hearing on the CFTC’s motion for preliminary injunction as to Dean, Knowles, Plunkett, Valko, Jedlicki, Universal Options, QLP and Safeguard for August 2 and 3, 2005.
In the continuing litigation, the CFTC is seeking permanent injunctive orders enjoining future violations, ordering repayment of funds to defrauded customers, and imposing civil penalties.
The CFTC would like to thank the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Florida Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement, the Office of Financial Regulation and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, among others, for their cooperation in the CFTC’s investigation and prosecution of this matter.
The CFTC would also like to thank the National Futures Association for their assistance.
The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this
case: Edwin J. Yoshimura, Diane M. Romaniuk, Catherine R. Fuller, Donald G. Nash, Ava
M. Gould, Venice Bickham, Dorothy Morris, Scott R. Williamson, Rosemary Hollinger, and
Joan M. Manley.
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The CFTC encourages members of the public to bring to our attention any suspicious activities involving futures or commodity options, including matters involving foreign currency (forex) investments or suspicious Internet websites.
You may contact the CFTC at 1-866-FON-CFTC (1-866-366-2382), visit us at our Customer Protection web page: (www.cftc.gov/cftc/cftccustomer.htm), or fill out our Internet Report Formidentifying your concerns (www.cftc.gov/enf/enfform.htm).
In addition, the CFTC publishes a series of Consumer Advisories at http://www.cftc.gov/cftc/cftccustomer.htm#advisory alerting the public to warning signs of possible fraudulent activity and offering precautions individuals should take before committing funds.
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