Believed to Have Over 400 Victims Nationwide, Including Individual, Family Offices, and Investment Groups – FBI Seeking Information Regarding Additional Victims
Three men were indicted for allegedly victimizing hundreds of people across the U.S. in a $364 million Ponzi scheme.
Kevin Merrill, 53, of Maryland; Jay Ledford, 54, of Texas and Nevada; and Cameron Jezierski, 28, of Texas, were charged by federal prosecutors for an alleged scheme that dates back to January 2013.
According to the U.S. Attorney Office for the District of Maryland, Merrill and Ledford invited people to buy consumer debt portfolios and falsely claimed that they’d profit from the debt payments.
Prosecutors claim the defendants falsely asserted the money they paid investors were “proceeds” from collections or sales, and that the money came from other investors. The men created impostor companies and incorporated them in Texas, authorities said.
The indictment alleges that in order to induce investors to participate, the defendants falsely represented who they were buying the debt portfolios from and how much they were paying for the portfolios; whether they were investing their own funds, and their track record of success. At times, according to the indictment, there was no underlying debt portfolio purchased with the investors’ money. To conceal the truth, the defendants created imposter companies with names similar to actual consumer debt sellers or brokers and opened bank accounts in the names of those imposter companies. In addition, to lend credibility to the transactions, the defendants created false portfolio overviews, sales agreements which used the names and forged signatures of actual employees of the sellers, created false collections reports, and falsified bank wire transfer records and bank statements.
Further, the indictment alleges that the defendants falsely represented that the monies they paid to investors were “proceeds” from collections and/or flipping debt portfolios, when in fact, the proceeds were paid from funds provided by other investors. The indictment alleges that Merrill, Ledford, and Jezierski personally enriched themselves and concealed their diversion of $73 million of investors’ funds to purchase and renovate high end homes in Maryland, Texas, Nevada, and Florida, purchase luxury automobiles, jewelry, boats, and a share in a jet plane, gamble $25 million at casinos, and support a lavish lifestyle.