A Pennsylvania lawyer has been formally charged for his role in what investigators describe as an investment fraud scheme that fleeced investors out of $2.7 million by falsely promising clients big returns as part of a securities fund.
A federal judge indicted Todd Lahr, 60, who lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, on one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud, and four counts of wire fraud.
The fraud charge that the defendant faces carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Further, the conspiracy to sell unregistered securities charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison as well as $250,000, according to the Justice Department.
Specifically, the authorities said in the indictment that from 2012 through 2019, Lahr engaged in a fraudulent scheme that netted nearly $2.7 million from victims. While it was actually running a Ponzi scheme, the attorney claimed that these funds would participate in a commodity pool for trading in a portfolio of financial instruments, including stocks of THL Holdings LLC and Ferran Global Holdings Inc.
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Victims funds spent on his child’s school tuition
The documents submitted to the court also paint a fairly concise picture of his fraudulent scheme, outlining his interaction and contact with less experienced victims, including targeting his own law clients.
Instead of using the investors’ funds for trading, the fraudsters allegedly misappropriated all of the pool participants’ funds, which were largely spent on personal expenses such as paying his home mortgage, his child’s school tuition, utility bills, among other items. As also charged, he used some new investors’ funds to pay back other investors in a Ponzi-like fashion, so that they would invest or refer additional money, thereby allowing the scheme to continue for a longer period of time.
“An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It merely alleges that crimes have been committed. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” the indictment notes.