Binary options fraudster pleads guilty, enters into agreement with US Attorney

Maria Nikolova

Leonel Alexis Valerio Santana, who impersonated a SEC employee and defrauded investors in a binary options recovery scam, has pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

A binary options fraudster has entered into plea agreement with the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and faces sentencing in August.

Leonel Alexis Valerio Santana, who was one of the organizers of a binary options recovery scam, appeared before the Court on May 10, 2018. He agreed to plead guilty to charges of (1) conspiracy to commit wire fraud, to impersonate a federal employee and to misuse a government seal, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and (2) conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation o f 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h).

In the plea agreement, Santana expressly and unequivocally admits that he committed the crimes charged in Counts One and Two of the Information, did so knowingly intentionally, and willfully, and is in fact guilty of those offenses.

He faces the following maximum penalties on each count:

  • Count One: incarceration for 5 years; supervised release for 3 years; a fine o f $250,000, or twice the gross gain/loss, whichever is greater; a mandatory special assessment of $100; restitution; and forfeiture.
  • Count Two: incarceration for 20 years; supervised release for 3 years; a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation, transmission, or transfer, whichever is greater; a mandatory special assessment of $100; and forfeiture.

The US Attorney agrees to recommend the following sentence:

  • incarceration at the low end of the Guidelines sentencing range;
  • a fine within the Guidelines sentencing range;
  • 36 months o f supervised release;
  • restitution; and
  • forfeiture.

The sentencing is set for August 14, 2018 at 2:00 PM.

Let’s recall that Frank Gregory Cedeno and Leonel Alexis Valerio Santana purported to be SEC employees seeking money in connection with the investments the investors had made with Banc de Binary. In one common version of the scam, victims received e-mails that used official-seeming documentation and the SEC seal to support a false claim that the targeted investor must pay a fee in order to receive a portion of the settlement of the SEC’s lawsuit against Banc de Binary.

From June 2015 through June 2017 there have been at least 95 victims targeted by this fraud scheme, with solicitations exceeding $1.3 million. Since June 2015, at least 25 of those targeted have sent money to the fraudsters, totaling more than $235,000.

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