ALAMEDA — A man from Alameda admitted to defrauding at least 20 people as part of an almost $2 million, years-long Ponzi scheme, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The DOJ said 35-year-old Long Nguyen pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and admitted to running the scam from September 2015 until July 2021.
As part of his plea agreement, Nguyen admitted to falsely presenting himself as a billionaire, lying about his investment opportunities and the benefits of investing with him. The DOJ said he told victims they would get a monthly income if they invested in his real estate investment trust.
However, the DOJ said he admitted he was using his victims’ money to pay back other victims, and most of the money was never invested. Instead, it was used for his own personal gain.
To deceive victims, the DOJ said Nguyen created fake screenshots of financial statements that showed victims were making money. Nguyen will be sentenced on Feb. 2, and he could face up to a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud. The DOJ said the judge may also order Nguyen to serve an additional term of supervised released, pay a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater.
In addition to this case, there have been numerous other instances of investment scams targeting innocent individuals. In 2024, it is predicted that AI technology will be used to create even more sophisticated scams, making it increasingly important for individuals to be aware of potential fraud.
One recent example is Club Regent, a popular brand that issued a warning about fraudulent online activity involving its name. Scammers were using the brand’s reputation to deceive individuals into investing in fake opportunities.
In another case, a Riverside County man admitted guilt in a $24 million Ponzi scheme that targeted 20 victims. The man falsely claimed to be a successful real estate investor and promised high returns on investments, but instead used the money for personal expenses.
Small businesses are also at risk for investment scams, with credit card processing scams specifically targeting them. These scams involve scammers posing as legitimate credit card processing companies and tricking businesses into paying unnecessary fees.
Even the IRS is not immune to scams, as a Wichita resident was left homeless after falling victim to an IRS scam. The resident received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and threatening legal action if they did not pay a fake tax debt.
It is crucial for individuals to thoroughly research any investment opportunities and be cautious of any red flags, such as promises of high returns or pressure to invest quickly. By staying informed and vigilant, individuals can protect themselves from falling victim to investment scams.