September 26, 2019
The SEC recently filed civil fraud charges against two individuals–John F. Thomas and Thomas Becker–and several businesses they controlled including:
The SEC alleges that Thomas and Becker’s purported sports betting operation offering 250% – 600% annual returns was in reality a Ponzi scheme that raised nearly $30 million from hundreds of investors nationwide. John Thomas and Thomas Becker are both convicted felons from previous crimes committed in the early 1990s. The two men are accused of making claims that their operation could produce annual returns of 250% to 600%. Their operation collected nearly $30 million in funds from over 600 investors nationwide.
Both Thomas and Becker were guilty of money laundering and conspiracy in 1991 from a scheme they ran together and in 2014 started six entities that offered a very similar investment. The two are largely held responsible for the extent of the scheme though several of the brokers hired were also charged by the SEC for their part in recruiting clients and making sales. To satisfy clients, Thomas and Becker sent letters that made claims, many of which stated that they could make better rate of returns than Warren Buffet. Along with these claims, they sent out falsified statements showing a history of returns that backed up the claims made.
Allegedly, most of the funds collected were never actually used for any type of sports betting. In fact, most were used to pay early investors in their returns, while other funds went to personal expenses and broker commissions. Just a small fraction of around $4 million was actually used to gamble on sporting events.