An alleged “mastermind” who pleaded guilty to running a $300 million Ponzi scheme involving hundreds of financial advisors was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.
From April 2011 until April 2018, Scott Kohn, 68, of Newport, California, along with his “co-conspirators,” used a corporation called Future Income Payments to run the scheme, which targeted primarily military veterans and other “pensioners experiencing financial distress,” the DOJ said in an announcement.
Kohn and the co-conspirators offered his victims upfront lump-sum payments to get rights to monthly pensions and disability payments, according to the agency.
“Even though the assignment transactions were characterized as “sales,” they were, in fact, usurious loans with annual interest rates of as much as 240%,” the DOJ said.
Then, using “a network of hundreds of financial advisors and insurance agents nationwide,” Kohn and the co-conspirators convinced “thousands” of seniors to buy FIP’s so-called “structured cash flows” — the pensioners’ monthly pension payments, according to the DOJ.
“Kohn and his co-conspirators induced these seniors to invest their retirement savings with FIP by making false assurances of a significant rate of return on their investment, concealing the usurious nature of FIP’s transactions with the pensioners and lying about the financial health of the corporation,” the agency said.
In all, the scheme caused more than $310 million in losses to over 2,500 retirees and imposed “exploitative loans” on over 13,000 veterans, according to the DOJ.
Kohn, meanwhile, tapped FIP funds to cover his “lavish lifestyle,” the agency said.
Judge Hendricks also ordered Kohn to forfeit $297 million as well as be placed on three years of supervised release after serving his prison term, according to the DOJ.
Four other defendants previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing, the agency added.
Finra, meanwhile, has sanctioned individual financial advisors allegedly involved the Ponzi scheme.