On July 24th, 2020

California Men Arrested in International Investment Fraud Scheme A California Department of Justice Investigation

SACRAMENTO – On July 23, 2020, California Attorney Xavier Becerra today announced the arrests of two men and the filing of charges against Christopher Mancuso, John Black, and Joseph Tufo for allegedly operating a multimillion-dollar investment fraud scheme that targeted more than 70 victims around the world. The defendants allegedly lured victims in by promising incredible returns on their investments at little to no risk but would then keep the money and split it amongst themselves. The California Department of Justice also secured orders freezing the defendants’ assets, including bank accounts, cryptocurrency, and real property. The criminal complaint charges the defendants with a total of 32 felonies for operating a fraudulent securities scheme, grand theft, and investment fraud. Mancuso was arrested in Orange County, Tufo were arrested in Contra Costa County while Black is at large and his last known whereabouts were in and around Sacramento County.

The charges and arrests are the result of a joint effort by California Department of Justice prosecutors and special agents in the White Collar Investigations Team, which works to take on financial crimes that can potentially devastate families by depleting their life savings, bankrupt companies, or cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

“This type of crime can destroy a family’s financial future,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “Special agents target those who commit financial crimes in order to protect the public, businesses and the operation of city, county and state governments.”

The criminal complaint alleges that between March of 2015 and January of 2020, the defendants willfully and unlawfully engaged in fraud and deceit to rob victims of millions of dollars. Altogether, the defendants are estimated to have allegedly stolen more than $10 million from victims around the world, including California, other states, Canada, Germany, England, and Italy.

Individual victims allegedly lost a minimum of tens of thousands of dollars each by being fraudulently induced by the defendants to invest in Financial Tree Trust, Financial Solutions Group Trust, and New Money Advisors, LLC. In some instances, victims were allegedly defrauded of their savings by being told that they could triple an investment of $25,000 in just four months. In another instance, the defendants allegedly promised to quadruple an investment of $100,000 in just three months. However, when these investments came due, the defendants would allegedly ignore calls and emails or tell various lies, including that there were delays being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of returning the money, the defendants allegedly mainly kept it for their own personal financial gain.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

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