Kansas Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Engaging in $900,000 Foreign Currency Ponzi Scheme

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NEWARK, N.J. – A Kansas man who executed an elaborate foreign currency Ponzi scheme that took in more than $900,000 from investors was sentenced today to 36 months in prison, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig announced.

Thomas Lanzana, 54, of Wichita, Kansas, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to Count One of an indictment charging him with wire fraud. Judge Vazquez imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Lanzana fraudulently solicited approximately $900,000 from at least 20 customers to invest in what he claimed were highly successful, algorithm-based trading pools in foreign currency derivatives (“forex”) and other financial instruments.

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To maintain the victims’ trust, Lanzana sent false account statements to his customers, posted false monthly account statements to his companies’ websites showing balances and trading activity for forex trading accounts that did not exist, and generated and sent false tax documents to customers reporting earnings that did not exist.

Lanzana misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars in investor funds, using some to repay earlier investors in the manner of a Ponzi scheme, and to pay for his personal expenses, including purchases on Amazon.com, payments to a luxury car dealer and a jewelry retailer, and golf expenses.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Vazquez sentenced Lanzana to three years of supervised release. 

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Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. She also thanked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement for its assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Torntore of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrime Unit.

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