Release Number 7605-17
August 24, 2017
CFTC Charges South Carolina Resident Thomas Lanzana, Florida Resident Nikolay Masanko, and Their Companies Blackbox Pulse, LLC and White Cloud Mountain, LLC with Fraud, Misappropriation, and Registration Violations
Lanzana and Masanko Allegedly Operated a Ponzi Scheme that Defrauded Off-Exchange Foreign Currency Derivatives Customers of at Least $700,000
Federal Court Enters Asset Freeze Order Freezing Defendants’ Assets and Protecting Books and Records
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil enforcement action against Defendants Thomas Lanzana (d/b/a Unique Forex) currently of Pawleys Island, South Carolina and his company Blackbox Pulse, LLC of North Bergen, New Jersey, and Nikolay Masanko and his company White Cloud Mountain, LLC, both of St. Augustine, Florida, charging them with fraud in connection with soliciting customers for their foreign currency derivatives (forex) trading pools and other investments. The CFTC Complaint, filed on August 21, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, also charges the Defendants with misappropriating customer funds and with registration violations. Lanzana resided at various times in Midland Park and New Bergen, New Jersey, until approximately 2015, according to the Complaint.
On August 22, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Cox Arleo signed a statutory restraining Order freezing the Defendants’ assets and prohibiting the destruction or concealment of their books and records. The court scheduled a hearing for September 20, 2017, on the CFTC’s motion seeking a preliminary injunction Order.
According to the CFTC Complaint, the Defendants fraudulently solicited approximately $700,000 from at least 31 customers to invest in forex pools beginning as early as 2013. The Complaint alleges that Lanzana and Masanko misrepresented to prospective customers that Lanzana was a successful forex trader when he was not, and had instead lost more than $12,000 trading forex for his personal accounts from February 2013 to February 2017. To mask the truth, Lanzana and Masanko (1) sent false customer account statements to their customers, (2) posted false monthly account statements to their companies’ websites showing balances in excess of $800,000 for a forex trading account that did not exist, and (3) sent false tax documents to customers reporting earnings that did not exist, according to the Complaint.
The Complaint also alleges that Lanzana misappropriated approximately $350,000 in customer funds. Lanzana used a portion of those funds to repay some investors in the manner of a Ponzi scheme and to pay for his personal expenses, including purchases on Amazon.com, payments to a luxury car dealer and a jewelry retailer, and golf expenses, among others, as alleged.
Additionally, the Complaint charges that although Lanzana and Masanko acted in capacities requiring them to register with the CFTC, they were not registered as required.
In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks restitution to defrauded customers, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC Regulations, as charged.
The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Stephanie Reinhart, Susan Padove, Joy McCormack, Ava M. Gould, Scott R. Williamson, and Rosemary Hollinger.
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CFTC’s Forex Fraud and Commodity Pool Fraud Advisories
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.
The CFTC has also issued a Commodity Pool Fraud Advisory, which warns customers about a type of fraud that involves individuals and firms, often unregistered, offering investments in commodity pools.
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: August 24, 2017