FX trader Kelvin Ramirez pleads guilty in social media scam

abdelaziz Fathi

A Texas-based forex trader charged with running a fraudulent investment scheme that raked in nearly $3 million pleaded guilty in a US federal court on Monday.

Kelvin O. Ramirez was ‎accused of taking money from customers who thought they were investing in foreign exchange markets. ‎Investors were lulled into the false belief that they were trading currencies through accounts managed by Ramirez, or by subscribing to his education courses or signals service.

The original case was brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 2019. A Texas federal judge granted the CFTC a final judgment against the alleged fraudster who never appeared in the case or responded to the agency’s complaint.

Ramirez used social media to solicit investors for commodity pools supposedly engaged in forex trading. The judge also ordered him to pay a $2.2 million civil monetary penalty as part of the final judgment entered against him in the enforcement action.

The defendant sold the ‘double your money’ software for as little as $250 per month to receive the basic trading signals and as much as $25,000 to receive the trading signals and other personalized trading advice.

In connection with the promotion of the software, Ramirez made a series of materially false claims through various means, primarily through social media, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and similar channels.

Ramirez used several names to hide his identity, according to the complaint that accuses him of fraud, misappropriation, registration ‎violations, and issuing false statements.‎

The US derivatives regulator alleged in its complaint the money sent to Ramirez was not used to ‎purchase or trade FX on his clients’ behalf. Prosecutors said that instead of buying the contracts ordered by his customers, he ‎spent the money on company expenses, investment activities ‎and for his own personal use and benefit. ‎

As a result of the actions and misappropriation, the ‎commission seeks full restitution to ‎defrauded ‎participants, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, a civil ‎monetary ‎penalty, permanent registration and trading ‎bans, and a permanent injunction ‎against violations of ‎federal commodities laws, as charged.‎

“Through his Instagram accounts, Ramirez marketed “investment groups” and “private accounts” that purportedly traded in forex and were managed by Ramirez. For both types of investments, Ramirez solicited individuals by falsely promising high returns on investments, making false representations about the risk associated with the investments and falsely guaranteeing returns on investment. Through his scheme, Ramirez fraudulently obtained more than $650,000 from over 100 individuals, and then used investors’ funds for personal expenses,” the justice department said in a statement.  

Ramirez pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $750,000. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 9.

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