A Miami man faces criminal charges in New Jersey where he is accused of masterminding a Ponzi scheme that duped nearly $20 million from dozens of investors. Louis Spina, 56, was arrested by New Jersey authorities and charged with a single count of wire fraud. Wire fraud carries a maximum potential sentence of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Between August 2010 and November 2013, Spina operated LJS Trading LLC ("LJS Trading"), which purported to offer investment services. Potential investors were told that Spina used proprietary algorithmic computer trading software to achieve guaranteed monthly rates of return ranging from 9% to 14%, and agreed that LJS Trading would be entitled to retain any profits above the specified rate of return. In total, Spina and LJS Trading received approximately $18 million from nearly 30 investors.
However, authorities allege that Spina and LJS Trading were not able to achieve the represented astronomical rates of return - which amounted to annual gains of 108% to 168% on an uncompounded basis. Indeed, of the $18 million received from investors, approximately $8 million was used by Spina for investing and ultimately resulted in trading losses. When investors began voicing suspicions about the legitimacy of LJS Trading's returns, Spina reassured investors by sending them "screenshots" of his trading account displaying a large balance. According to the FBI, this balance was not the accurate balance, but simply a display of the 100-to-1 margin purchasing power used by Spina.
Spina is accused of using approximately $10 million of investor funds for a variety of unauthorized purposes, including the payment of fictitious interest payments to investors, luxury apartment rental payments, and even a $400,000 donation to a private university.
A copy of the complaint is below: