A Pennsylvania court has granted the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s motion for a default judgment against a Mount Laurel man, who operated three FX brands that conned victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Specifically, the U.S. derivatives regulator alleged in its complaint that between September 2016 and November 2018 Michael Salerno, 52, ran a series of businesses, including Black Diamond Forex LP, BDF Trading LP, and Advanta FX, each of which purported to be in the business of FX trading.
Through a series of misrepresentations and omissions, Salerno and his Pennsylvania companies induced victims to pay advance fees of varying amounts, usually ranging from $1,200 to $1,900, in order to hire them as forex traders. He told victims that upon being hired, they would have access to a pool of $10 million, which they could trade on the forex market. Further, promises were made that they would be taking performance bonuses and generous chunks of any profits.
The defendants solicited prospective traders through job postings on websites, such as LinkedIn and Indeed.com, which enticed nearly 150 individuals to deposit $310,000 that was actually spent for his own benefit.
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In connection with the promotion of his fraud, Salerno and his companies made a series of materially false claims to lure investors interested in forex trading. Claims were made that he had profitably traded forex on behalf of himself and others, managed a real estate empire, a portion of which was sold for $9.5 million to start up his proprietary trading companies.
None of these claims were true. In fact, Salerno had never traded successfully in the FX markets and declared bankruptcy twice, most recently in 2015, the same year he claimed to have made millions in real estate sales. In 2005, he also pleaded guilty to federal tax charges and was sentenced to 21 months in prison.
For his many crimes, Salerno was required to pay more than $1.2 million in fines and full restitution of what he had done.
Finally, the CFTC warned victims that although it works closely with authorities to seek the prompt return of all misappropriated funds, wherever situated, they may not recover their lost money because the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets.