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Feds: Branford Man Gets 8-Year Sentence for Ponzi Scheme

Feisal Sharif was sentenced Wednesday after he pled guilty to defrauding investors out of some $3.6 million last August.

Sharif was ordered to report to prison on May 1. Credit: Patch file photo
Sharif was ordered to report to prison on May 1. Credit: Patch file photo
A Branford business man will spend the next eight years in prison after he pled guilty to defrauding investors out of some $3.6 million through a sophisticated Ponzi scheme he had created, according to the United States Attorney of the District of Connecticut's office.

Feisal Sharif, 43, of Branford, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 100 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.

Tom Carson, communications manager for the U.S. Attorney's Office, reports that according to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately 2003 to September 2012, Sharif ran an investment fraud scheme through First Financial, LLC, a firm he operated out of his Branford residence. 

"As part of the scheme, Sharif convinced numerous individuals to give him money to invest in what they believed was a commodity pool to profit from trading in commodity futures," Carson stated in a press release.

In an effort to make investors believe that their money was safely invested and earning a sizeable return, Carson said Sharif regularly made monthly payments to investors, falsely claiming the payments represented returns on their investments. 

He also supplied investors with monthly statements from First Financial that falsely reported the purported balances of their investments and their rate of return on the investments.

"In fact, Sharif was mostly paying existing investors with new money he raised from other investors," Carson stated. "Very little of the investment money he raised was used to trade in commodity futures, and what he did invest in commodity futures did not generate returns anywhere near those he reported to investors."

In addition, a review of First Financial’s bank records revealed that from 2006 to 2012, Sharif took more than $500,000 by way of ATM withdrawals, ATM transfers or checks made payable to himself. 

Carson added that Sharif also made hundreds of other bank transfers unrelated to any investments for various personal expenses.

Through this scheme, Sharif defrauded more than 70 investors of more than $3.6 million. 

"Sharif's victims included relatives, friends and people he knew through their common connection with a religious institution," Carson stated, adding that many of these people "lost substantial portions of their life savings as a result of the scheme."

Sharif was ordered to pay restitution of $3,682,930.84.

On Aug. 27, 2013, Sharif pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by a commodity pool operator and and one count of wire fraud.

Sharif was ordered to report to prison on May 1.

In a related proceeding, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today barred Sharif from associating with any broker, dealer, or investment advisor as a result of his conduct giving rise to his conviction in the criminal matter, according to Carson.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. 

U.S. Attorney Daly also acknowledged the assistance of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the State of Connecticut Department of Banking. 

The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Murphy.

Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll free, 855-236-9740, or by sending an email toctsecuritiesfraud@ic.fbi.gov.
Liberty Reserve June 02, 2014 at 11:11 AM
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