Report: $364 Million Ponzi Scheme Posing As Investment Firm Blew Cash on Supercars
Mercedes and McLarens, Bugattis and BMWs, all purchased with $364 million that prosecutors say was obtained fraudulently.
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of fraudulently obtaining $364 million, some of which was reportedly spent on a lavish collection of exotic supercars.
Kevin Merrill, 53; Jay Ledford, 54; and Cameron Jezierski, 28, have been indicted, and face charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering. According to the indictment, as published by The Baltimore Sun, the three began the Ponzi scheme in 2013, telling investors that they would buy up consumer debt, for which they said they would receive payments or re-sell to third-party buyers. Some payments would be made back to early investors using the money of those that would hand over their money later, though a significant portion was allegedly pocketed by Merrill, Ledford, and Jezierski.
Prosecutors say $73 million of the $364 million of which they defrauded investors was earmarked for personal interests, which include diamond jewelry, a boat, $25 million worth of gambling at casinos, nine expensive homes across four states, a share in a private jet, motorcycles, and of course, 26 high-end cars, some of which are listed below.
- 2008 Bugatti Veyron
- 2013 Ferrari California
- 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe
- 2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
- 2014 Pagani Huayra
- 2014 Lamborghini Aventador Roadster
- 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 (also a 2015)
- 2015 Bentley Flying Spur
- 2016 Ferrari 488 (two)
- 2016 Tesla Model S
- 2017 Audi R8 5.2 Plus
- 2017 Lamborghini Huracan Roadster
- 2017 Lamborghini Aventador
- 2017 Land Rover Range Rover (two)
- 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S
- 2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn
- 2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith
- 2018 McLaren 720S
- 2018 Ferrari 488 Spider
- 2018 Lamborghini Huracan
Other, less-exotic vehicles were purchased, including a Ford Explorer which Merrill may have bought for his wife or girlfriend with the fraudulently-obtained cash, according to files obtained by The Baltimore Sun. A list of several motorcycles was also reportedly bought with the dirty money.
"Federal prosecutors, FBI agents, and our SEC partners together interrupted an ongoing fraud scheme, with the potential to victimize even more people," stated U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur in a release by the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland. "According to the indictment, the defendants lured investors through an elaborate web of lies, duping them into paying millions of dollars into this Ponzi scheme. Most of these investors are just learning that they have been victimized. The effects of this kind of fraud can be devastating. We urge anyone who thinks they may be a victim to contact the FBI at MerrillLedford@fbi.gov."
"The FBI takes our responsibility to investigate and pursue those who commit fraud for personal gain very seriously,” added Gordon B. Johnson of the Baltimore Division of the FBI. "We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who use illegal means and criminal behavior to take advantage of others. We are committed to protecting investors from the illegal and deceptive practices Mr. Merrill and Ledford used to defraud investors out of their hard earned money and savings."
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