FORT WORTH, Tecas (CN) – A North Texas man was indicted on two counts of wire fraud in connection to a $4 million Ponzi scheme, prosecutors with the state’s Northern District Court said Thursday.
Christopher Blackwell, 32, of Colleyville, Texas, was arrested in Phoenix earlier this month and remains in custody. A date has not yet been set for his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth.
According to the indictment, Blackwell deceived investors by telling them that he would invest their money in business ventures that would generate a high rate of return. He also allegedly claimed that the investments involved little to no risk and targeted at specific business ventures.
But in reality, Blackwell used most of the money for his own personal benefit and doled out new investors’ funds to give the appearance of profits, prosecutors say.
Ultimately, however, not all investors received payments from Blackwell, and many lost all of the money they had invested.
According to the criminal complaint, at least 20 victims have been identified. They suffered more than $4 million in losses as a result of Blackwell’s scheme.
“One investor, identified only by initials, lost all of the $325,000 he gave Blackwell to invest,” prosecutors said in a written statement. “Agents obtained Blackwell’s bank records and were able to determine that Blackwell did not invest the money as promised, but instead used it for personal expenditures including automatic teller machine withdrawals, dining and entertainment, luxury vehicle expenses and payments to family and business associates.”
In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Blackwell, AV Bar Reg Inc. and Millers A Game LLC, two entities under his control, claiming that Blackwell enticed investors by telling them that his trading program would generate highly impressive, guaranteed returns of 25 to 30 percent per month with regularity. He falsely claimed these profits were possible because of his academic pedigree, including master’s and doctoral degrees acquired at a prestigious university in Spain (Blackwell holds no such degrees); his extensive experience as a trader (he has little, if any, such experience); and the know-how and connections he acquired while employed by Goldman Sachs and The Bank of Madrid (he never worked at either firm). In March, the SEC and Blackwell and his entities entered into an agreed judgment.
Blackwell faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Stevenson Weimer is prosecuting the case.