U.S. Homeland Security agents a year ago this month smashed the alleged Ponzi scheme that they said New Jersey-based businessman David Schamens, 65, used to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Now comes a March 28 indictment that charges him with wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
Schamens, of Greensboro, North Carolina, used some of the investment money from victims in the U.S. and overseas – some of them retirees – to repay earlier investors in typical Ponzi fashion, the indictment alleges.
A good deal of it went toward vacations, luxury vehicles and a down payment on a million-dollar home, it says.
The SEC had barred Schamens from the securities industry in 1996 as part of a settlement of charges that included misappropriating investor funds, records show.
Then, in 2016, his America Comes First PAC allegedly failed to disclose the names of donors before Election Day while exceeding contribution limits.
Schamens’s latest clash with authorities stems from a firm he established in New Jersey that developed and sold “auto-trading” software for stocks.
Promising returns of 12 to 30 percent, Schamens “fraudulently solicited investments in various entities he controlled,” including TD Trading LLC, TFG Trading Fund LLC, Tradestream Analytics LTD, Tradedesk Financial Group Inc., and others, in 2014, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip R. Sellinger said.
Five years later, in 2019, Schamens “began to solicit investment in Tradestream Algo Fund, an algorithm-based trading pool that he claimed to have developed,” the U.S. attorney said on Tuesday.
The fund purportedly was using “state-of-the-art servers” located in the same data center as the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ, authorities said.
In each instance, they said, Schamens directed investors to wire funds directly or transfer portions of their IRAs to bank accounts that he controlled.
He then slickly moved the money through various bank accounts – some in the names of law firms that weren’t involved with the investments -- before ultimately pocketing it, the indictment alleges.
Schamens "took several steps to keep his customers’ trust, including sending false account statements; posting false monthly account statements to his companies’ websites showing balances for trading accounts that did not exist; and sending false tax documents reporting earnings that did not exist,” Sellinger said.
When one alleged victim tried to cash out his $2.9 million, Schamens returned $300,000 that he’d culled from other investors, the indictment says. Despite his best efforts, the investor never got the rest of it back, the government alleges.
To that victim, as well as others, Schamens insisted all was well in messages that were “calculated to lull [victims] into a false sense of security,” the indictment charges.
The SEC has a parallel complaint pending against Schamens, also in U.S. District Court in Newark, for allegedly lying to investors.
Schamens previously claimed that his current woes began as a witch hunt orchestrated by Clinton over what had been his support of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. His wife and daughter “had automatic weapons pointed at them” when he was arrested, Schamens told the Daily Beast.
He also claimed to have testified against Clinton in 1997 during a “secret grand jury” proceeding about “millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions out of China.”
SEE: Pro-Trump PAC Exec Rants About Hillary After Feds Charge Him for Ponzi Scheme (DAILY BEAST)
Schamens later turned on Trump, taunting him for not fulfilling a campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Sellinger on Tuesday credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations’ Newark Field Office with the investigation leading to the charges. Handling the case for the government, he said, are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Torntore, chief of Selingers Cybercrime Unit, and Sophie E. Reiter, a unit member.
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