Daniel Fernandes Rojo Filho, who allegedly participated in a massive Ponzi scheme, supposedly established 17 different bank accounts under the name of his business.
Filho is 48 years old, and he claims to be a billionaire from Brazil. He was living in Orlando in 2009 when he attracted the attention of United States investigators who say that he was involved in drug trafficking, money laundering and a major Ponzi scheme. Since then, Filho has lost millions of dollars in Lamborghinis, gold bars and other luxurious assets.
However, in the middle of 2014, Filho opened at least 17 new bank accounts. The accounts were established under the name of “DFRF Enterprises”, which represents Filho’s initials.
Prosecutors say that Filho used these accounts to conduct a Ponzi scheme. In the scheme, Filho promised investors income from a gold-mining operation that did not exist. More than 1,400 people were supposedly involved in the scheme. Filho claimed that his company operated 80 gold mines and had more than $1 trillion in reserve capital. He managed to obtain $15 million from investors, and he used the money to purchase several highly luxurious automobiles.
What is most remarkable is that the banks had allowed Filho to open the accounts in the first place. A basic information search would have set off several red flags.
Attorney Evans Carter said, “If the banks had just Googled this guy, they would have known enough to stay away.”
In July of this year, Filho was arrested. He is currently awaiting a hearing in Boston. Filho is facing charges of mail fraud and selling unregistered securities.
The banks have not been accused of any illegal behavior, though the fact they allowed Filho to create the accounts shows major foolishness on their part.
However, banks have been charged for providing assistance to criminals in the past. In 2014, JPMorgan agreed to forfeit $2.5 billion for its involvement in the infamous Ponzi scheme conducted by Bernard Madoff.
Filho opened accounts at JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, RBS Citizens of Massachusetts and others.
Representatives from the banks declined to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, banks are making efforts to improve their security. JPMorgan increased its security spending by more than $2 billion from 2012 to 2014, and Citigroup spent nearly $1.5 billion to increase its number of staff to watch out for schemes.
However, even with these attempts at improving fraud protection, banks are still apparently enabling criminals to scam thousands of people. It’s shocking that a man like Filho was almost able to get away with his behavior thanks to the utter senselessness of banks.