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Metro Area Jewelry Wholesaler Indicted For $200 Million Ponzi Scheme

Federal Court in Brooklyn.
Federal Court in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: File

A jewelry wholesaler from Long Island is facing charges for allegedly operating a $200 million Ponzi Scheme in New York.

Long Island resident Gregory Altieri, of Melville in Suffolk County, the president of LNA Associates, was indicted for allegedly operating a two-year $200 million scheme based on nonexistent wholesale jewelry deals and false promises of inflated returns, federal officials said.

It is alleged that beginning in August 2017, Altieri solicited between $75 million to $85 million from more than 80 investors in Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, and elsewhere, to allegedly purchase high-end jewelry at “closeout” prices to in turn resell it at a high profit.  

Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said that Altieri promised returns of between 30 and 70 percent in a matter of months. 

While Altieri initially purchased jewelry with investors’ money, in May 2018 he began to use new investors’ money to pay earlier investors, representing to the latter group that they were receiving returns on their investments. 

DuCharme said the purported “returns” were then used by Altieri to convince the earlier investors to keep their money in with LNA Associates, by “rolling over” their investments into new investments based on false promises to use this money to purchase additional jewelry. 

By January this year, when Altieri stopped making payments to investors, he owed them approximately $200 million based on the falsely inflated promised returns.   

Altieri, 53, was arrested on Tuesday, July 14, and scheduled to be arraigned on one count of wire fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

“Stealing millions based on false promises made to retirees who rely on their pensions is contemptible,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said. “We allege Mr. Altieri knew he was going to have problems paying off his first round of investors, but he kept his con going anyway. 

“As a result of his actions, the FBI has provided him with stainless steel jewelry for his wrists today, and a guarantee of working to hold him and others who commit similar frauds accountable for their behavior.” 

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