A New Jersey-based former financial advisor was sentenced to more than six years in prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme that deprived elderly investors of $2 million, the Department of Justice announced. Daniel Rivera had previously pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud and one charge of subscribing to a false tax return before his sentencing last week.
According to the DOJ, Rivera solicited individuals to invest in Robbins Lane Properties between 2008 and 2017. Rivera touted the business as a company staffed with real estate professionals who would invest in real estate ventures. By doing so, Rivera promised that investors’ funds would support the company’s investment portfolio and in return investors would receive a guaranteed monthly income with a rate of return based upon the “secure real estate investments” the company had in its portfolio.
Robbins Lane, however, had no employees or investment portfolio to speak of. Instead, Rivera used the funds he raised from investors for “personal and unrelated business expenses,” including college tuition and sorority fees for his child. He also used the funds he raised from investors to pay others in order to make them believe it was the expected return on their investment.
Rivera had previously been barred by the SEC in 2016, according to his BrokerCheck profile. The original SEC complaint detailed the same scheme for which he has been prosecuted, arguing that Rivera had defrauded about 30 investors in total. Rivera even recommended some investors liquidate their securities portfolios, as well as annuities and life insurance policies, to invest in Robbins Lane, and encouraged one investor to take a mortgage out on her home in order to invest further.
Throughout the scheme, Rivera made “various false excuses” about victims’ investments, leading investors to continue to believe that their funds were secure, according to the DOJ’s original indictment. While the scheme was underway, Rivera also filed a federal income tax return that underreported his taxable income by more than $33,000.
In total, Rivera was sentenced to 78 months in prison, as well as three years of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson also ordered Rivera to pay $1.47 million in restitution to clients, as well as $284,683 to the IRS as a result of the tax fraud charge.