SEC impostor claiming to offer binary options recovery services gets prison sentence

Maria Nikolova

Leonel Alexis Valerio Santana receives 63-month prison sentence over defrauding victims of binary options brokers by falsely promising them funds recovery and legal assistance.

In line with requests by the US Government, Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV of the Massachusetts District Court issued a prison sentence to Leonel Alexis Valerio Santana, who orchestrated a binary options recovery scam.

On Wednesday, August 15th, the Judge signed an Order directing the defendant to be committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons to be imprisoned for a term of 63 months (60 months on Count I and 63 months on Count II to be served concurrently). Upon release from imprisonment, the defendant shall be placed on supervised release for a term of 3 years on each count to be served concurrently with standard and special conditions. The defendant is also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $105,869.74.

Let’s recall that in May this year, Santana 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 admitted 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.

Leonel Valerio Santana is said to have pretended to be an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claiming to offer recovery services to victims of binary options brokers like Titan Trade and Banc de Binary.

In order to convince victims to pay for the services offered, members of Santana’s conspiracy pretended to be employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission, sometimes real ones, whose identities as SEC employees could be verified with an internet search. The conspirators used official-seeming e-mail addresses like [email protected] and [email protected], fake forms bearing the SEC seal, and documents that appeared to be legal contracts, all in an effort to trick their victims into believing they were sending money to a legitimate government entity.

To avoid detection, Santana and his associates hid their true identities behind anonymous e-mail addresses, internet-based voiceover IP phone numbers, and several layers of money transfers among nominees who were paid small amounts for their services. The result was a substantial financial loss to tens of victims, the victimization of SEC employees whose identities were stolen, and an additional basis for public mistrust that threatens the SEC’s ability to help victims of the regulatory violations that agency seeks to remedy.

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