The US authorities charge three Maryland-based companies and their principals for defrauding 1,200 investors of $28 million.
The complaints from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission implicate Dennis Jali, John Frimpong, Arley Johnson and their companies, 1st Million LLC, The Smart Partners LLC and Access to Assets LLC, in the Ponzi scheme.
The complaints allege that the defendants fraudulently solicited participants to trade in forex and digital assets through pooled trading accounts controlled by Jali. The defendants told investors that their funds would be used by a team of skilled and licensed traders and promised them risk-free returns of between 6% and 42%.
According to the complaints, the targets of the scheme were often vulnerable African immigrants and members of church communities. The defendants exploited their common ancestry and religious affiliations. Jali claimed to be a pastor, self-made millionaire and an experienced trader. He rented an office to give a false appearance of a legitimate company. The complaints also allege that Jali told participants that he had achieved positive returns of more than 1700%. In an online promotional video he also claimed that his had generated 400% in six weeks, all live trading in real markets”. The complaint claims that the defendants diverted investor funds for personal use and to make Ponzi payments to prior investors.