Long Island FA Who Bamboozled Clients and Stole Millions in Ponzi Scheme is Arrested
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office has arrested Steven Pagartanis, owner of Omega Planning Associates, for allegedly swindling his clients out of $7.5 million meant to be invested in a Canadian real estate development company, the Long Island Business News reports.
Pagartanis instead used the $7.5 million in client funds to repay prior investors in the alleged Ponzi scheme, as well as settle personal expenses.
Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini told the Long Island Business News that Pagartanis fooled his four victims into giving him their funds by describing a great investment opportunity, causing some investors to lose their life savings. Pagartanis’s four victims ranged in age from 64 to 83 years old and some began investing in the alleged Ponzi scheme back in 2013.
Pagartanis was charged with four counts of grand larceny and barred from acting as a securities broker by Finra in April. A civil lawsuit has also been filed against him by the SEC. The SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest and financial penalties, as previously reported.
The news follows a number of Ponzi schemes unearthed recently. In April it was revealed one former FA swindled clients out of $3.1 million. The former FA solicited money under the premise he would invest in financial instruments and movie productions. Funds were instead diverted for personal use and resulted in the FA pleading guilty to a sentence carrying up to a half a million-dollar fine and the potential for up to 20 years in prison.
Fraud and Ponzi schemes remain prevalent in the U.S., often committed by people with close relationships to their victims, such as financial advisors. In 2016 alone, 59 Ponzi schemes were unearthed, equaling losses totaling $2.37 billion.