Senen Pousa Took $53 Million from Investors in Foreign Exchange Trading Scam
AUSTIN (CN) - An Australian man took $53 million from 1,500 investors worldwide in an "investment education" and foreign exchange trading scam, the SEC and CFTC claim in parallel lawsuits.
The SEC sued Senen Pousa and his Brisbane-based Investment Intelligence Corp. dba ProphetMax, in Federal Court.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued Pousa and his company and three other defendants on similar charges: Joel Friant, Elevation Group dba Elevation Group FX and Michael Dillard.
In its complaint, the SEC says Pousa solicited investors through his websites, "sophisticated" Internet webcasts, webinars directly and through The Elevation Group, an Austin-based website.
The SEC claims Pousa falsely promised investors 9 percent monthly returns, that their money would be managed by a group of six proprietary traders who worked 24 hours a day, that no more than 3 percent of investor capital would be risked per transaction and that trades would be limited to three or four per month.
The SEC says Pousa is still running the scam.
It claims Pousa's program has two parts - first an "education" program, in which investors are told to set passive investment goals. This is a pretext for Pousa to market his investment program, the SEC says. In part two, Pousa has investors open accounts, through which the defendants manage the money.
During an Elevation Group webinar and question-and-answer session in Austin, Pousa claimed his firm used "six of the world's best" forex traders and turned a $10,000 investment into $281,000 from October 2007 to January 2012.
"This is the way the Wall Street elite play the game," Pousa told his clients, according to the SEC.
"Pousa also claimed that investors would have access to his 'millionaires circle,' through which every one or two weeks investors would be introduced to one of Pousa's millionaire investors," the complaint states. "As part of this service, these millionaires were to give investors free tips on how to make thousands of dollars 'without risking any capital.'" Pousa never made any of these introductions, the SEC says.
Investors learned in May that Pousa's offerings were fraudulent, and that their accounts at IB Capital had lost 63 percent of their value, the SEC claims.
"IB Capital accounts statements showed that, contrary to the low-risk, low-volume trading strategy pitched by Pousa - in which no more than 3 percent of an investor's capital would be at risk - approximately 200 trades had occurred over the two days preceding the losses," the complaint states.
A week later, Pousa held another webinar in which he claimed that the losses were due to a trading error, the SEC says. At that time, investors learned that the trading was conducted by an employee of Global Forex Management, not Pousa's proprietary group, the SEC claims.
It says Pousa later sent a "white paper," asking investors to add more money to their accounts, to make up the losses faster, and touted future profit potential as "unlimited." "As the webinar and subsequent white paper show, Pousa and IIC misled investors," the SEC says. "Pousa did not have a proprietary trading group, and the historical returns touted by Pousa were bogus. The low-risk, low-volume trading strategy marketed by Pousa was likewise fabricated."
Pousa also lied that his firm's performance was independently audited by KPMG, the SEC says.
It seeks an accounting, injunction and disgorgement for violations of the Exchange Act and Securities Act.
The CFTC seeks declaratory relief and an injunction for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.