Release Number 7464-16
September 30, 2016
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 Trading Strategies and Systems
Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil anti-fraud enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California charging Defendants Joseph Dufresne (a/k/a Joseph James) and Megan Renkow (a/k/a Megan James), both of Palos Verdes Estates, California, and their company, United Business Servicing, Inc. (UBS), doing business as SchoolofTrade.com (SoT), with fraudulently marketing commodity futures trading strategies and systems.
The CFTC Complaint alleges that from at least October 2011 through the present, Defendants, in the course of selling memberships in SoT, have engaged in a systemic pattern of false statements and omissions concerning: a) the professional experience and trading success of Dufresne; b) the profitability and performance record of SoT’s trading strategies and systems; and c) the actual nature of the trading activity purporting to take place during SoT’s “Live Trade Room.” The CFTC’s Complaint also alleges that Defendants failed to display prominently in their solicitation material certain required disclosure statements concerning simulated or hypothetical trading results and client testimonials. Defendants sold at least 877 memberships in SoT and took in more than $2.7 million during the period charged in the CFTC’s Complaint.
Specifically, the CFTC alleges that Defendants have: 1) portrayed Dufresne as a successful professional trader with years of experience and numerous awards and recognitions when, in fact, Dufresne has little experience, has never been professionally recognized, and has never been a profitable trader; 2) touted the profitability of SoT’s strategies and systems and claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in trading profits earned every year, when, in fact, none of the Defendants’ accounts has ever been profitable; and 3) promoted SoT’s “Live Trade Room” in which they purport to make profitable trades on live accounts in real time when, in fact, none of the trades called or profits claimed to have been made in the “Live Trade Room” as set forth in the Complaint can be found in any of Defendants’ accounts.
Additionally, the Complaint alleges that Defendants have failed to prominently display in their various solicitation materials certain language, required pursuant to CFTC Regulations, stating that their results are based on simulated or hypothetical performance results and do not represent actual trading.
In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks restitution to defrauded clients, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, a civil monetary penalty, permanent registration and trading bans, and a permanent injunction against future violations of federal commodities laws and regulations, as charged.
CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Erica Bodin, Maura Viehmeyer, Alan Edelman, James H. Holl III, Michael Solinsky, and Rick Glaser.
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CFTC’s Fraud Advisories, Including Commodity Trading Systems Sold on the Internet
The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide the warning signs of fraud, including an Advisory on Commodity Trading Systems Sold on the Internet. The CFTC has seen an increase in websites that fraudulently promote commodity trading systems and advisory services, and the information in this Advisory is designed to help customers identify this potential swindle.
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: September 30, 2016