The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it filed a complaint against Ruless Pierre for operating an investment club—called Amongst Friends Investment Group—that was, in fact, a Ponzi scheme. The SEC alleges victims were not only a circle of Pierre’s family and friends, but many members of the New York Haitian community.
Pierre, who is not a registered advisor, managed to scam $2 million from at least 100 investors starting in March 2017, according to the SEC. The SEC charges that Pierre promised investors high-yield promissory notes that would generate at least 20% in returns every 60 days. The SEC says Pierre had incurred heavy losses trading securities and hid that information from investors, in part by paying older investors with funds from new investors.
To further support the fraud, the SEC says Pierre embezzled money from his former employer and used it to pay investors' interest. In November 2018, Pierre raised another round of funds, $375,000, from the sale of partnership interests in fast food restaurants to more than 15 investors, according to the complaint. In that instance, Pierre promised monthly gains of over 10% and quarterly profit-sharing, the SEC said. The SEC claims that Pierre was in full knowledge that his franchise could not meet the expectations he set for investors.
The SEC charges that Pierre violated the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and names R. Pierre Consulting Group LLC as a relief defendant, meaning the company holds the ill-gotten funds.
In addition to the SEC's action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has filed criminal charges against Pierre.