(The Center Square) – The operator of a supposed foreign exchange trading firm has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme through which he obtained $100 million from investors concentrated in Detroit, U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced.
Darren Anthony Robinson, 53, a U.S. citizen who has operated out of Panama, was charged in a criminal complaint with committing wire fraud. Robinson appeared in federal court in Detroit to make his initial appearance.
According to the unsealed complaint, Robinson operated a supposed trading firm known as “QYU,” located in Panama and the Cayman Islands.
QYU represented to investors that it was consistently generating stellar investment results. For example, in one QYU document, the firm claimed that a $100,000 investment into its fund in 2014 would have grown to over $2 million by 2021. That same document claimed the fund did not have a single losing month over that same period. QYU investors were promised guaranteed returns and told the firm was only paid on trading profits, not investor principal.
The complaint alleges that QYU was a Ponzi scheme. Investor funds were largely not used for trading activity. Instead, new investor funds were used to pay other investor distributions, cover QYU business expenses, compensate QYU employees, and fund Robinson’s lifestyle. QYU investors were provided with false account statements and fictitious trading data. The complaint indicates that QYU obtained about $100 million from investors.
“The complaint alleges a brazen investment fraud that victimized investors around the world. My office will work tirelessly to investigate and prosecute those who defraud others and undermine the financial system,” Ison said in a statement.
“This defendant allegedly orchestrated a large-scale, multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme with victims across the globe,” Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office James A. Tarasca said in a statement. “Investment fraud can be crippling for its victims, and the FBI is committed to identifying and working with anyone impacted by this scheme.”
Law enforcement has identified many apparent QYU investors from southeast Michigan. Potential victims are encouraged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation here.
“Illegal activity involving the investment industry, especially Ponzi schemes, has brought financial ruin to many Americans, said Charles Miller, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, using our financial investigative expertise to help put a stop to this and other types of white-collar crime in Michigan.”
The defendant faces up to twenty years in prison on the charge of wire fraud.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew J. Yahkind. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan was assisted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for its assistance.