Release Number 8786-23
CFTC Charges Florida Man with Forex and Binary Options Fraud and Misappropriation
September 26, 2023
Washington, D.C. — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against Patrick Wonsey of Riverview, Florida. The complaint charges Wonsey with fraud and misappropriation related to a trading scheme involving, among other things, leveraged or margined retail foreign currency (forex) and binary options traded on and off CFTC-regulated exchanges. Wonsey solicited at least $3.4 million from at least 50 individuals.
The CFTC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, restitution, permanent registration and trading bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), as charged.
According to the complaint from approximately January 2017 through September 2022, Wonsey solicited and pooled over $3.4 million from at least 50 pool participants for the purported purpose of trading retail forex, binary options, metals and digital assets. To induce pool participants to send him money, Wonsey made fraudulent and material misrepresentations and omissions regarding his past trading success, chances of future profitability, frequency of payouts, and the lack of risk involved with trading through him. Wonsey only traded retail forex and binary options.
Instead of trading pool participant funds as promised, Wonsey misappropriated the funds for his personal benefit and to pay other pool participants in the manner of a Ponzi scheme. When pool participants requested their funds, Wonsey failed to pay them. He either ignored the requests, provided fraudulent excuses, or engaged in conduct designed to delay payouts for as long as possible.
Additionally, Wonsey was not registered as a commodity pool operator, did not set up the pool as required, and commingled pool participant funds with his own.
The Division of Enforcement staff responsible for this case are Kelly Folks, Sean Hennessey, Kevin Samuel, Alison B. Wilson, Erica Bodin, and Rick Glaser.
CFTC’s Forex Fraud and Commodity Pool Advisories
The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories and Articles that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Foreign Currency (Forex) Trading Fraud Advisory and the Commodity Pool Fraud Advisory, which provide information about how customers can detect, avoid, and report scams.
The CFTC also strongly urges the public to verify a company’s registration with the CFTC before committing funds. If unregistered, a customer should be wary of providing funds to that entity. A company’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 may be 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.