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Burnaby woman admits guilt in US$15M Ponzi scheme

Monita Hung Mui Chan raised US$211,000 from 34 investors and recruited other participants in U.S.-based scheme even though she 'reasonably should have known' founder's claims were lies
gold bars Getty
A U.S.-based Ponzi scheme promised investors high returns based on non-existent gold reserves.

A Burnaby woman has admitted to being involved in a multi-million-dollar U.S.-based Ponzi scheme and will pay $135,000 as part of a settlement agreement with B.C.’s investment market watchdog.

The fraudulent scheme was orchestrated in 2014 and 2015 by Daniel Rojo Fernandes Filho, a Brazilian national living in Florida, according to the B.C. Securities Commission.

It involved selling investments in two companies that investors were told had lucrative gold mining operations when, in fact, the firms had no gold reserves and their only source of money was investors.

Investors were promised extraordinarily high, no-risk returns, according to the BCSC.

The scheme raised US$15 million from 1,400 investors worldwide, including about US$1.15 million in B.C., the commission said.

Monita Hung Mui Chan, of Burnaby, raised US$211,000 from 34 investors and also recruited other participants who promoted the investments in B.C., according to a settlement agreement signed Saturday.

Chan admitted to participating in Filho’s scheme from December 2014 to July 2015 by appearing in promotional videos with Filho, hosting meetings for investors, distributing promotional materials, forwarding Filho’s social media posts, distributing application forms and payment instructions to investors, accepting payments and repeating Filho’s claims.

Chan admitted she participated even though “she reasonably should have known that Filho’s claims were false,” according to the agreement.

Under her agreement with the securities commission, Chan must pay $135,000 to the BCSC, including $100,000 that she made through her misconduct.

The agreement also includes broad bans from the B.C. capital market for 10 years.

A Surrey resident, Marie-Joy Vincent, has also admitted to being involved in the Ponzi scheme and must now pay the BCSC $6,500.

Unlike Chan, however, Vincent did not profit from her misconduct, according to the commission.

A hearing is underway this week into allegations against three other B.C. residents accused of being involved in the pyramid scheme.