Federal prosecutors in Maryland indicted three men today on charges of bilking more than 400 investors of $364 million in an elaborate Ponzi scheme. The victims were small business owners, professional athletes, doctors and lawyers in Maryland and throughout the nation.
Prosecutors charged Kevin Merrill, 53 of Towson, Jay Ledford, 54, of Texas and Nevada, and Camerson Jezierski, 28 of Texas, with conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering. Robert Hur, the US Attorney for Maryland says the three tricked their victims into parting with their money.
“The defendants lured their victims with promises of an investment opportunity that seemed too good to be true,” says Hur. “Unfortunately, it was too good to be true.”
Hur says the men created fake consumer debt portfolios that they then sold to third party debt buyers, known as flipping.
According to the indictment the three spent approximately $75 million they made from the scheme to buy six luxury homes in Maryland and Florida, multiple automobiles, expensive jewelry, boats and shares of a plane, and they gambled away $25 million at casinos.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has frozen Merrill’ and Ledford’s assets with the goal of returning some of the money to investors after the prosecution is completed.
The Baltimore division of the FBI is looking for more victims to come forward as the investigation is ongoing.
All three were arrested. Merill and Ledford have detention hearings scheduled for later this week. Jezierski is expected to appear in federal court in Baltimore Monday.