CFTC Hits SchoolofTrade Fraudsters with $5 Million Fine

James and Renkow sold subscribers different levels of membership and varying degrees of access to trading strategies.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that it ‎obtained a federal court order requiring Joseph Dufresne and Megan Renkow and their company to pay nearly $5 million in disgorgement and penalties for fraudulently marketing their trading educational program. ‎

The CFTC disclosed in a press statement that the defendants have never been registered with the regulator, yet they tried to get clients for their company United Business Servicing to sign up for a futures trading system marketed under the name SchoolofTrade.com, or SoT.

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In soliciting clients since October 2011, James and Renkow, a husband and wife team, were not truthful about the trading history, performance or the nature of the trading system, raking in a total of $2.7 million from at least 877 customers by misrepresenting their phoney online program to teach them how to get rich in commodities trading.

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In connection with the promotion of the educational offering, James and Renkow made a series of materially false claims to bolster the credibility of their program. The offerings included false ads and dubious training tools, where they created a ‘Live Trade Room’ to allow victims to watch them making allegedly profitable trades that never actually took place.

The watchdog revealed that James and Renkow sold subscribers different levels of membership and varying degrees of access to trading strategies and systems in SchoolofTrade, ranging in price from $250 a month to a lifetime subscription for $5000.

In addition to the fiscal penalties, the court order also imposes permanent trading, ‎solicitation and registration bans on the defendants. Furthermore, it permanently bars them from engaging in any commodity-related activities and requires them to cease and desist from violating the provisions of the CEA, as charged.

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