Federal Court in Florida: Woodbridge Ponzi Scheme Operators Liable for $1 Billion in Damages
As reported by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a federal judge from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has entered judgements against the Woodbridge Group, 281 related companies and entities, and several individuals, including Robert H. Shapiro, the former owner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Woodbridge group of companies.
Collectively, these judgements are worth in excess of $1 billion. Woodbridge was a Florida-based real estate Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors all across the United States, before finally being exposed by securities regulators in late 2017. Here, our Miami Ponzi scheme lawyers provide an overview of this ruling.
Massive Financial Penalties: Disgorgement and Fines
A Boca Raton, Florida-based company, Woodbridge was exposed as a Ponzi scheme in 2017. Despite offering “safe, passive income” in real estate securities, the company failed to make many of the investments that were promised. Notably, Woodbridge used a number of smaller companies to carry out the fraud scheme. In all, Woodbridge and 281 related companies were ordered to pay back $892 million in disgorgement to the affected investors. In addition to the company itself, the founder and former CEO of Woodbridge, Robert H. Shapiro was hit with a $100 million civil fine. He was also ordered to pay back more than $18.5 million in ill-gotten gains and to pay investors at least $2 million in overdue interest.
8,400 Investors Were Defrauded; Mostly Senior Citizens
The Woodbridge Ponzi scheme is one of the biggest frauds perpetrated against U.S. investors in recent years. According to the SEC, approximately 8,400 investment fraud victims have been identified so far. While investors were defrauded all around the country, a disproportionate number of the Woodbridge victims are from the state of Florida, where the company was headquartered. Many vulnerable senior investors were involved in this Ponzi scheme. In fact, Woodbridge intentionally targeted senior citizen investors — promising them ten percent annual returns on safe real estate investments.
Many of Woodbridge’s financial products were mortgage-backed promissory notes. Unfortunately,
Mr. Shapiro and other operators of the Ponzi scheme were not making all of the real estate investments that were touted to investors. In the style of a typical Ponzi scheme, investor funds were being recycled and shuffled through a vast network of companies, while new investor money was being used to pay off the original investors. Legal professionals, regulators, and other authorities are now working to recover as much money as possible for the victims of this Ponzi scheme.
Get Help From Our Miami, FL Ponzi Scheme Attorneys Today
At Carlson & Associates, P.A., our Florida securities fraud lawyers have the skills and experience to handle the full range of Ponzi scheme claims. If you or your loved one lost money in Woodbridge Wealth financial products or in any other type of Ponzi scheme, we can help. For a strictly confidential consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our Miami law office today.