Release Number 8665-23
CFTC Charges Several People and Companies in a $145 Million Ponzi Scheme
Charges Include Lying to the National Futures Association to Conceal the Fraud
February 23, 2023
Marcus Todd Brisco of Wailuku, Hawaii and his companies Yas Castellum LLC of Denver, Colorado, and Yas Castellum Financial LLC of Wailuku, Hawaii; Tin Quoc Tran of Katy, Texas; Francisco Story of Draper, Utah; Fredirick “Ted” Safranko of Vancouver or Ontario, Canada; Michael Shannon Sims of either Sunny Isles Beach, Florida or Roswell or Atlanta, Georgia; and SAEG Capital General Management LP (SAEG) of Draper, Utah.
As alleged in the complaint, Tran operated a fraudulent scheme from approximately April 2020 to the present. He directly accepted at least $144,043,883 from approximately 913 pool participants. Some, if not all, of the funds were intended for trading either forex or margined or leveraged gold-U.S. dollar pairs. However, Tran did not send any pool participant funds to a trading firm; rather, he misappropriated some of the pool participant funds by using them to pay invoices, a loan, individuals not involved with the commodity pool, and to subsidize his unrelated businesses.
Further, as alleged in the complaint, from approximately October 2020 to May 2022, Brisco and Yas Castellum LLC misrepresented to potential pool participants Yas Castellum LLC ’s historical trading records; how they would trade pool participant funds; where they would maintain pool participant funds; and who would do the trading. Based on these material misrepresentations and omissions, at least 43 pool participants transferred no less than $470,780 to Yas Castellum LLC to participate in its purported commodity pool. Rather than trade pool participant funds, Brisco and Yas Castellum LLC, with the direction and assistance of Sims, transferred the funds to entities Tran controlled.
The complaint further alleges that Brisco closed Yas Castellum LLC and then launched Yas Castellum Financial LLC in June 2022. Brisco and this new company engaged in many of the same misrepresentations and omissions as the former company. Based on these material misrepresentations and omissions, at least 57 pool participants transferred approximately $1,585,261 to participate in Yas Castellum Financial LLC’s purported commodity pool. However, Yas Castellum Financial LLC also misappropriated pool participant funds by transferring most of the funds to a Tran-controlled entity, and by Brisco paying himself for purported trading profits that did not exist.
The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the NFA.