Three South Florida men have been charged with operating a Ponzi scheme as well as committing affinity fraud through their two companies: HomePals Investment Club LLC and HomePals LLC.
Ronnie Eugene Bass Jr., Abner Alabre, and Brian J. Taglieri are charged with defrauding investors in the amount of $14.3 million. As with many Ponzi schemes, the terms of this, “investment opportunity,” turned out to be too good to be true. The aforementioned individuals promised investors that their money would be doubled every 90 days. Such stellar returns were purportedly possible due to Bass’ expertise in trading stock options and commodities. Contrary to such assertions, the scheme only invested $1.2 million of the capital made available to them, and even then, operated at a 19% trading loss.
As is typical with Ponzi schemes, HomePals used the majority of investor funds to repay earlier investors. In addition to this regrettable activity, the proprietors of HomePals embezzled over $500,000 of available investment funds.
As was stated above, Bass, Alabre, and Brian are also charged with affinity fraud. This is a particularly damaging activity where an identifiable group is targeted and exploited on the basis of the mutual trust between members of that group. In this case, the alleged criminals preyed on the Haitian American community, both in South Florida and New Jersey.
Taglieri has already agreed to settle the SEC’s charges against him. He has consented to the judgment of the court and consented to returning ill-gotten gains as well as being subject to yet to be determined financial penalties.