The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has today charged former Boston resident, Mark A. Jones, with operating a $10 million Ponzi scheme that claimed to generate profits from “bridge loans” to businesses in Jamaica. Jones was arrested on Sunday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts also filed related criminal charges against him on Monday.
According to the SEC complaint, Jones started soliciting investors around 2007, telling them that their money would be pooled and used to make “bridge loans” to Jamaican businesses awaiting funds from approved commercial bank loans.
Jones is said to have told investors the bridge loans would generate approximately 15 to 20 percent interest a year, raising about $10 million from at least 21 investors, including three of his own relatives. Jones used the money to pay other investors, as well as his personal expenses – the hallmark of a Ponzi scheme.
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Jones also appeared in YouTube videos touting investment opportunities in Jamaica and met with some investors in Jamaica to show local projects they had purportedly funded. Many people that Jones defrauded are retirees who have now found themselves in financial dire straits because of their investments with him.
Paul G. Levenson, Director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office commented, “We allege that Jones enticed investors with the idea that they were investing in loans to Jamaican businesses that already had been approved for bank loans. Instead, we charge that Jones used investor money for other purposes, including making payments in Ponzi scheme fashion.”
The SEC obtained a court order on Tuesday freezing Jones’ assets and an order to repatriate investor funds that were moved overseas. The SEC’s complaint seeks a permanent injunction, and returns of allegedly ill-received gains with interest and penalties.