the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Midland Park NJ, A former Bergen County, New Jersey, man was arrested today in Park City, Kansas, on charges that he defrauded at least 20 people by soliciting investments in what he claimed were highly successful financial instruments, but which was actually a Ponzi scheme, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Thomas Lanzana, 51, formerly of Midland Park, New Jersey, and now residing in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, was charged by complaint with one count each of wire fraud and commodities fraud. He is scheduled to have his initial court appearance today in Wichita federal court.
According to the criminal complaint:
As early as 2013, Lanzana fraudulently solicited approximately $900,000 from at least 20 customers to invest in algorithm-based trading pools in foreign currency derivatives (forex) and other financial instruments. He falsely claimed to prospective customers that he was a successful forex trader. Lanzana allegedly took several steps to keep his customers’ trust: he sent them false account statements; he posted false monthly account statements to his companies’ websites showing balances, some in excess of $800,000, for forex trading accounts that did not exist; and he sent false tax documents to customers reporting earnings that did not exist.
Lanzana misappropriated at least $350,000 in customer funds, using some to repay earlier investors in the manner of a Ponzi scheme, and to pay for his personal expenses, including purchases on Amazon, payments to a luxury car dealer and a jewelry retailer, and golf expenses.
The count of mail fraud with which Lanzana is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the scheme. The count of commodities fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to the arrest. He also thanked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement for its role in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David W. Feder of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Cyber Crime Unit.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.