SEC Charges Miami Jeweler in $40 Million Ponzi Scheme



The Securities and Exchange
Commission last week charged a Miami jeweler for conducting a $40 million Ponzi
scheme. 

The SEC alleges that Luis Felipe
Perez, owner of Lucky Star Diamonds, arranged “no-risk” loan agreements with investors and promised
to pay them guaranteed annual returns of 18 percent to 120 percent through
monthly interest payments. Perez falsely told investors that their investments
were collateralized by diamonds, and led some investors to believe they were
beneficiaries on his life insurance policy without disclosing that the policy
had lapsed.

Rather than financing his jewelry
businesses, the SEC alleges that Perez misused new investor funds to pay prior
investors, and he stole at least $6 million for personal spending on
limousines, extravagant dinners, bodyguards, and political contributions that
helped bolster his image in the local community.