Release Number 8452-21

CFTC Charges El Paso Resident and His Firm in Ongoing $3.9 Million Forex and Cryptocurrency Fraud and Misappropriation Scheme

October 20, 2021

— The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced that it has filed a civil enforcement action in the Western District of Texas against Abner Alejandro Tinoco, and his company, Kikit & Mess Investments, LLC, both of El Paso, Texas, charging them with fraudulent solicitations and misappropriation of over $3.9 million. 

On October 13, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge David C. Guaderrama signed an ex parte statutory restraining order freezing assets controlled by the defendants, preserving records, and appointing a Temporary Receiver. A hearing on the CFTC’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction is scheduled for October 27, 2021.

In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks restitution to defrauded investors, 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), as charged.

Case Background

The complaint alleges that since at least September 2020 to the present, the defendants solicited through various channels, including Kikit’s website, more than $3.9 million from at least 61 clients that gave the defendants money to manage their trading in customized client portfolios for trading in the foreign exchange markets (forex) and cryptocurrencies. The defendants did not trade their clients’ funds in managed accounts; rather, they misappropriated the funds for Tinoco’s personal benefit or to pay false “profits” they reported to clients in a manner similar to a Ponzi scheme. The vast majority of the clients’ funds were used to pay Tinoco’s personal expenses, such as travel costs, including chartering a private jet, renting a luxury mansion and cars, leasing a luxury automobile, as well as purchasing real estate.  

The Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Susan B. Padove, Heather J. Dasso, Matthew Edelstein, David Terrell, Scott Williamson and Robert Howell. Jeremy Christianson from the Division of Administration assisted in this matter.

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CFTC’s Commodity Pool and Forex Fraud Advisories

The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Commodity Pool Fraud Advisory and the Forex Fraud Advisory, which alert customers these types of fraud and list simple ways to spot them.

The CFTC also strongly urges the public to verify a company’s or individual’s registration with the CFTC before committing funds. If unregistered, a customer should be wary of providing funds to that company or individual. A company’s or individual’s registration status can be found using NFA BASIC.

Customers and other individuals can report suspicious activities or information, such as possible violations of commodity trading laws, to the Division of Enforcement via a toll-free hotline 866-FON-CFTC (866-366-2382), file a tip or complaint online, or contact the Whistleblower Office. Whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected paid from the Customer Protection Fund financed through monetary sanctions paid to the CFTC by violators of the CEA.