Jeweler Luis Felipe Perez was recently charged with perpetrating a $40 million Ponzi scheme and $12 million bank fraud. Perez operated the scheme by convincing investors to invest in his jewelry store, along with his pawn shops in New York, and the investors would be rewarded with high rates of return. Perez promised a return of approximately 120% — a telltale sign of a fraudulent investment.
The bank fraud scheme alleged Perez was recruiting borrowers to invest in his businesses, then a former loan officer with Wachovia created the fraudulent loan applications (believed to be in excess of 25). A third member of the scheme, an accountant, provided the information which needed to be faked in order to get the loans applications through. In exchange for the loan officer’s help, she received a commission.
The local Hialeah community were supporters of Mr. His jewelry store was popular according to South Florida magazines. Like other Ponzi schemers, Perez increased his standing with local political leaders by donating frequently to their political campaigns.