Crime

NY Jewelry Wholesaler Pleads Guilty to $200M Ponzi Scheme

CrimeJan 06, 2021

NY Jewelry Wholesaler Pleads Guilty to $200M Ponzi Scheme

Gregory Altieri solicited millions from investors by promising falsely inflated returns from the purchase and resale of closeout jewelry, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

New York—A Long Island man has pleaded guilty to wire fraud for running a two-year, $200 million Ponzi scheme.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Gregory Altieri falsely promised high rates of return for investments in wholesale jewelry purchases.

Beginning in August 2017, Altieri solicited between $75 million and $85 million in investments in his business, LNA Associates, from more than 80 investors in New York City and elsewhere.

The U.S Attorney’s Office said he told these investors he would use their money to buy jewelry at closeout prices and resell it for a profit, yielding returns of between 30 and 70 percent within months.

Though he did initially purchase some jewelry with their money, beginning in about May 2018, Altieri started using money from new investors to pay earlier investors, telling the latter they were receiving their returns.

According to the office, he also used those “returns” to convince investors to keep their money with LNA by rolling it over into new investments and buying additional jewelry.

By January 2020, Altieri had stopped making payments to any investors and, based on the falsely inflated returns he promised, owed them about $200 million.

As part of his plea deal, Altieri also admitted to committing securities fraud in connection with the scheme.

His sentencing is scheduled for March 31. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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