Two Plead Guilty in Woodbridge Ponzi Scheme

By August 18, 2021 Ponzi Scheme

Two final defendants recently pled guilty in the massive Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC (“Woodbridge”) Ponzi scheme that bilked some 7,000 investors out of approximately $1.29 billion.

Dane Roseman, 38, and Ivan Acevedo, 44, pled guilty in a Florida District Court relating to their participation in the massive investment fraud scheme. Co-defendant Robert Shapiro, who was the former owner, president and CE of Woodbridge, was previously sentenced to 25 years in prison for his leadership role in the scheme.

As detailed in a Department of Justice news release regarding the Woodbridge Ponzi Scheme:

“According to the indictment, superseding information, and court documents, Shapiro spearheaded and concealed an enormous Ponzi scheme through his business, Woodbridge.  Woodbridge employed approximately 130 people and had offices located throughout the United States, including in Boca Raton, Florida; Sherman Oaks, California; Colorado; Tennessee; and Connecticut.  The scheme ran from at least July 2012 to December 2017, when Woodbridge filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and defaulted on its obligations to investors.

Throughout the conspiracy, Woodbridge’s main business model was to solicit money from investors and, in exchange, issue investors promissory notes reflecting purported loans to Woodbridge that paid high monthly interest rates.  Woodbridge falsely claimed that these investments were tied to real property owned by third parties and that the third parties would be making the interest payments to Woodbridge and its investors; it was portrayed as an investment in a hard-money lending business.

Roseman started working for Woodbridge as a sales agent in or around August 2012.  Between 2015 and 2017 he served as the sales manager of Woodbridge.  Acevedo started working for Woodbridge as a sales agent in or around 2009, and in 2013 to December 2014 he served as the sales manager of Woodbridge.  As sales managers, these defendants sold Woodbridge securities and trained and supervised Woodbridge internal sales agents who sold Woodbridge securities.  Using high-pressure sales tactics, Shapiro, Roseman, Acevedo, and others marketed and promoted these investments as low-risk, safe, simple, and conservative.  And at minimum, investors were made to believe that Woodbridge’s real estate dealings would generate the funds used to pay the return on their investments.”

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“Shapiro, Roseman, and Acevedo falsely claimed that Woodbridge was profitable and advertised high rates of return to investors.  However, Shapiro’s real estate portfolio failed to generate sufficient cash flow to satisfy the loan obligations and interest payments owed to investors.  To make up for the cash deficiency, Shapiro resorted to making Ponzi payments, i.e., hundreds of millions of dollars invested by new investors were used to pay “returns” to older, existing Woodbridge investors.  In some instances, Shapiro made these fraudulent “interest” payments even when the advertised investment properties were never acquired.

As its sole owner and chief operator, Shapiro compartmentalized Woodbridge operations to restrict access to information concerning Woodbridge’s finances.  Neither Roseman nor Acevedo had access to or knowledge of Woodbridge’s finances and were unaware that Shapiro was using new investor money to pay prior investors.  Thus, neither Roseman nor Acevedo had direct knowledge that Shapiro was operating a Ponzi scheme by using new Woodbridge investor money to pay prior investors.

In total, Shapiro and his co-conspirators convinced more than approximately 9,000 investors to invest more than $1.29 billion to Woodbridge.  According to the Superseding Information and Superseding Indictment, at least 2,600 of these investor victims invested their retirement savings, totaling approximately $400 million.  Of that, Shapiro misappropriated approximately $25 million to $95 million in investor money for himself and for the benefit of his immediate family members.  Roseman received approximately $2.5 million in Woodbridge money and Acevedo received approximately $1.1 million.”

Roseman and Acevedo are set to be sentenced on September 20, 2021.

If you believe you have suffered losses in the Woodbridge Ponzi Scheme or other investment scheme, please contact us to discuss your possible claim