New York (HedgeCo.Net) After four weeks of trial, a federal jury in New York, returned guilty verdicts against Diane Kaylor and Jason Keryc, former employees of Agape World, Inc. (Agape), on charges of securities fraud, conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud.
As a result of the investment Ponzi scheme, approximately 3,800 investors sustained actual losses totaling approximately $147 million.
The charges arose out of the defendants’ participation in a huge Ponzi scheme. When sentenced by United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each count. Keryc was remanded.
“Kaylor and Keryc convinced thousands of hard-working, middle class Americans to invest their life savings, their children’s college funds, or their retirement money in Agape, knowing that Agape was a Ponzi scheme,” United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said. “The defendants’ motive was simple and all too common today: greed. The more money the defendants pried out of investors’ pockets, the larger their commission checks. The defendants gained the trust of their investors and then betrayed that trust to feed their insatiable appetites for money.”
The defendants and their co-conspirators took more than $370 million from approximately 5,000 investors. Of that $370 million, only $22 million actually went to fund bridge loans. Unbeknownst to investors, approximately $113 million of their money was used to trade high risk futures and commodities.
Between October 2005 and January 2009, the defendants, who worked as account representatives or brokers for Cosmo, played critical roles in the operation of the Ponzi scheme by soliciting and obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars from investors. To induce investments and discourage withdrawals, the defendants misled the investors by
- assuring investors that their investments would only be used to fund specific, short-term secured bridge loans to commercial borrowers, or to make short-term loans to small businesses;
- promising to pay investors unusually high rates of returns; and
- representing that investing in Agape carried little or no risk of loss. The defendants raised significantly more money than was needed for the loans, and lied to the investors by assuring them that their money would specifically be used to fund only a particular loan. For their efforts, Kaylor and Keryc made approximately $3.4 million and $8.9 million, respectively.
Nicholas Cosmo founded Agape in August 2000. Earlier, Cosmo spent 21 months in a federal prison for defrauding investors. Kaylor and Keryc were aware of Cosmo’s prior fraud conviction, but, not surprisingly, did not disclose this information to their investors.
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