The co-operator of a global binary options scheme was sentenced Friday to 12 months in federal prison for her role in cheating thousands of investors in the United States and across the world out of $145 million.
Lissa Mel, 31, an Israeli citizen, also was ordered by the court jury in the US state of Maryland to pay victims restitution of $288,024.
In the scheme, Lissa worked as a sales representative for Yukom brands from July 2015 till November 2016, where she misleadingly referred to herself as a “Senior Broker,” “Account Manager,” or “Chief Analyst.” The binary options scam involving the Israeli-run websites BinaryBook.com and BigOption.com betrayed investors to the tune of $145 million between 2016 and 2017, while only $20 million of this amount was paid back to defrauded victims during this period.
The indictment charged that Mel pretended to be from another country, lied about her professional qualifications and adopted “stage names” during her one-year tenure at Yukom. Lissa used the alias “Monica Sanders” while interacting with investors, according to prosecutors.
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Yukom CEO could get 20 years in prison
The former reality show contestant also falsely guaranteed profits, lied about historical rates of return and didn’t tell investors that they only made money if their customers lost money. In January, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Mel is the first of 15 defendants to be sentenced. Five have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors while nine other defendants, including Yukom owner Yosef Herzog, were found guilty in February.
Last month, a U.S. court convicted Yukom CEO Lee Elbaz of three counts of wire fraud and one of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the same case. Elbaz, 38, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 9 by a federal judge in Maryland.
Elbaz, who proudly called herself a “money-making machine,” trained employees to lie to investors and rigged the odds against them while falsely guaranteed returns of up to 40 percent.