St. Petersburg Ponzi/Pyramid Scheme Lawyer

Ponzi and pyramid schemes are investment fraud crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As such, they are often federal crimes and entail harsh penalties. If you are under investigation or are already facing charges, speak to a defense lawyer straightaway. For immediate assistance from a St. Petersburg Ponzi and pyramid scheme lawyer, call today.  

What Do Ponzi and Pyramid Schemes Entail?

Ponzi schemes are a specific type of investment fraud in which the main schemer (individual or company) entices new investors with high returns, and then uses new investors’ money to pay returns to prior investors, rather than paying them from profits.

Ponzi schemes get their name from Boston businessman Charles Ponzi, who, in the 1920s, devised a scheme involving postage stamps that spread throughout the country. A Ponzi scheme can involve various types of levels of fraud, such as making false promises (high returns, no risk) and falsifying documents. The schemer generally pockets much of the new funds that come in, until the scheme collapses.

Other pyramid schemes involve classic pyramid sales models, in which a recruiter entices people to join, start their own franchise, and then recruit others to do to the same. While some pyramid schemes are legitimate, others promise extraordinary (and fabricated) returns on investment, constituting fraud. An attorney in St. Petersburg can provide more information on what your Ponzi and pyramid scheme charges entail.

Penalties for Ponzi and Pyramid Schemes

Because there is no federal statute for Ponzi or pyramid schemes, penalties differ. Upon conviction, St. Petersburg defendants may face various types of charges depending on the circumstances, so it is important to work with a lawyer who could help mitigate penalties. The courts may order prison time, fines, and restitution.

However, under Florida Statutes § 849.091 makes it a misdemeanor of the first degree to participate in a pyramid scheme. Penalties may include a fine up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

Defendants may face charges under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act [Florida Statute § 501.201 – 501.213] as well. Charges may range from misdemeanor to felony. Depending on the charges, penalties might include:

  • Prison/jail time
  • Probation
  • Fines and restitution
  • Community service
  • Loss of business license
  • Injunctions

Many people charged with Ponzi scheme crimes also face other similar charges such as bank fraud and wire fraud.

Ponzi and Pyramid Scheme Defenses

There are viable defenses that attorneys in St. Petersburg may use to fight Ponzi scheme charges, but gathering supportive evidence and crafting a strong case takes a good bit of time and effort.

Many Ponzi schemes start out as legitimate businesses. It is not until the business starts to falter that the accused starts scrambling to find ways to make good on payments to investors. Some people caught in the midst of a Ponzi or pyramid scheme have no idea the operations are shoddy; they simply believe they have found good fortune and made smart choices in their investments.

Reach Out to a St. Petersburg Attorney About Ponzi/Pyramid Scheme Charges

In order for the government to prove you are guilty of fraud, the prosecutor has to be able to show that you had intent to defraud. So, most defenses in these cases revolve around proving lack of intent.

The facts, evidence, and circumstances for each case differ. You will want to speak to a fraud/theft lawyer at our firm about the best way to defend against Ponzi or pyramid scheme charges for your particular case. For a St. Petersburg Ponzi/pyramid scheme defense attorney who handles federal investment fraud charges, contact us today and let us get to work on your defense.