WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Operators of a Ponzi scheme falsely claiming to operate wealthy gold mines in Brazil and Africa face fraud charges and an asset freeze, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in a press release.
“DFRF Enterprises, named for its founder Daniel Fernandes Rojo Filho, claimed to operate more than 50 gold mines in Brazil and Africa, but the company’s revenues came solely from selling membership interests to investors and not from mining gold,” the SEC said on Thursday.
“With the help of several promoters, they lured investors… [with] false promises,” the SEC explained.
The scheme raised more than $15 million from at least 1,400 investors by recruiting new members in pyramid scheme fashion to keep the fraud afloat, according to the SEC.
Payments were made to earlier investors in Ponzi-like fashion for their recruitment efforts, it said.
The SEC further alleges that Filho has withdrawn more than $6 million of investor funds to buy a fleet of luxury cars among other personal expenses.
The SEC’s complaint was filed on June 30, 2015, and unsealed on Thursday in a federal court in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is charged with protecting US investors, maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets as well as facilitating capital formation, according to its web site.