MIAMI (CN) – A Miami man targeted the local Latino community in a $40 million Ponzi scam, and used their money to run his jewelry stores and pawn shops, the SEC claims in Federal Court. The SEC claims Luis Felipe Perez did it by promising “no-risk” deals with 18 to 120 percent annual returns.
Perez, 38, of Miami, was president and sole owner of Lucky Star Diamonds and Luis Felipe Jewelry Design, according to the complaint.
The SEC claims Perez lied to some of his three dozen victims by telling them their investments were collateralized by diamonds, and told some that they were beneficiaries on his life insurance policy – which had lapsed.
The SEC says Perez actually used new money to pay off old victims, and stole at least $6 million for “lavish personal spending on limousines, extravagant dinners, bodyguards, and political contributions that helped bolster his image in the local community.”
Perez also faces criminal charges, the SEC said in announcing its civil complaint.