Dearborn resident pleads guilty in investment fraud scheme

 

Date: August 17, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Dearborn resident Ali Rameh Bazzi pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and money laundering arising out of a $500,000 investment fraud scheme, announced acting United States Attorney Saima S. Mohsin.

Joining in the announcement were Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian Thomas of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ali Rameh Bazzi pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud arising from his scheme to defraud investors out of approximately $500,000. Bazzi also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, the result of financial transactions he engaged in with the fraudulently obtained funds.

Acting United States Attorney Mohsin stated "Bazzi told his victims that he was investing their money in foreign exchange and commodity markets. In fact, he used their money to line his own pockets, and lied to his victims over and over again in order to sustain his fraud. Today's guilty plea reflects my office's commitment to hold accountable all those who fleece the public for personal gain."

"Investment fraud schemes that entice investors with the false promise of significantly larger than average returns often result in the entire loss of investment. IRS CI is committed to investigating the 'too good to be true' investment scams," stated Brian Thomas, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation.

"Because seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for financial fraud crimes, the FBI and our law enforcement partners have prioritized our efforts to address elder fraud," said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Detroit Field Office. "We encourage anyone who believes they are a victim of fraud or know a senior who may be, regardless of financial loss, to immediately report the incident to the FBI or another law enforcement agency."

According to the plea agreement, Bazzi owned and operated a purported investment company in Dearborn, Michigan known as Welther Oaks, LLC. Using the business name Welther Oaks, Bazzi solicited funds from individuals in various parts of the United States, including Michigan, Illinois and California, purportedly for investments. Bazzi represented to prospective investors that their funds would be invested primarily in foreign currency exchange markets; he also represented that the funds may be invested in certain commodities, including gold. Bazzi told the investors that Bazzi's trading model would ensure that they earned high rates of return on their investment. Bazzi provided investors with written trading agreements and other materials. Bazzi also falsely represented that he was a licensed professional. Investors primarily funded their investments via checks mailed to Welther Oaks, or via wire transfers to bank accounts owned and controlled by Bazzi.

According to the plea documents, approximately 30 individuals invested funds with Bazzi over the course of his scheme, which ran from approximately March 2018 through March 2020. These investments totaled approximately $500,000. Contrary to his representations to the investors, Bazzi diverted most of the investors' funds to his own personal uses and expenses. According to the plea documents, Bazzi spent investor funds on a sports car, other luxury vehicles, and expensive jewelry. To conceal the scheme. Bazzi provided investors with periodic investment account statements that listed fictitious trading activity and account balances.

The plea agreement further states that Bazzi engaged in financial transactions with the fraudulently obtained funds, including wiring some $28,429.20 to a business in Nevada for the lease of an exotic sports car.

Sentencing is set for November 30, 2021 at 4pm. before United States District Judge David M. Lawson.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John K. Neal. The investigation is being conducted jointly by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigations. The Chicago Office of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission provided substantial assistance in the investigation of this case.

Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice. The mission of the Department's Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department's enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation's seniors.