The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has filed an enforcement action in New York federal court against an Iowa-based money manager accused of soliciting clients for his fraudulent scheme via Craigslist ads, the agency said Monday.
According to the complaint, Lon Olen Friedrichsen solicited the money from several unsuspecting investors by guaranteeing participants a monthly return on their investments based on profits purportedly earned from commodity trading. The commission is seeking a court order to force Friedrichsen to disgorge ill-gotten gains and pay a fine.
Clients gave Friedrichsen the power to trade in their accounts as he fraudulently induced them claiming to be fit and proper. One client gave him $100,000 as he as claimed 10% per day returns provided that they would split the profits 50/50 every week.
The CFTC alleges that beginning in December 2014 and continuing through to May 2017, the defendant conspired to defraud investors by enticing them to participate in his asset management services.
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To create the illusion of stability, he allegedly prepared and distributed false account statements to fund participants, telling investors that his strategy offered a safe investment with steady and guaranteed returns, according to the complaint.
As a result, at least 12 participants gave Friedrichsen a total of $400,000 to trade in their personal commodity futures accounts held at Futures Commission Merchants. He lost $161,000 of his clients’ funds, and raked in a total of $45,369 in fees.
In connection with the promotion of his service, the unregulated money manager made a series of materially false claims through various means, including a website, social media, newsletters and verbal communications.
He also allegedly utilized promotional materials that showed trading returns based on hypothetical results, without including the required disclosure language.
The CFTC has asked the court to provide full restitution to defrauded investors, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and to pay the appropriate civil monetary penalties. In addition to fiscal claims, the agency seeks permanent registration and trading bans and a permanent injunction from future violations of federal commodities laws.