What is White Collar crime?
A Miami fraudster who suckered victims out of $5.6 million and got snagged by the FBI just before skedaddling to Dubai has been sentenced to more time in federal prison.
Jorge Garrido, 45, was sentenced to five years, 10 months on Aug. 7 after pleading guilty to wire fraud in connection with a scheme that took advantage of investor greed. That sentence will begin after Garrido finishes the three years, 10 months he got in December 2017 for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud.
A July pre-sentencing filing from prosecutors reminded the court that, in 2017, while out on bond after the mortgage fraud indictment, Garrido figured out investigators were getting into his investor fraud. So, after telling an employee, “I don’t belong here anymore,” he sent the employee to set up telephones in Dubai, from which he thought he couldn’t be extradited.
Then, Garrido spent $90,000 to book a private jet from Palm Beach International Airport.
“With a bond jumping warrant in hand, on March 22, 2017, FBI agents arrested Garrido at the airport about to board a chartered jet,” the filing said.
The drama in that last-minute snag sounds as if it would fit an episode from “Law & Order.” Garrido’s con game also played out like schemes on episodes of “Law & Order’s” white-collar, true-crime cousin, “American Greed.”
According to Garrido’s admission of facts, Garrido set up G & C Investment and claimed it was a commodities trader with “relationships with suppliers, buyers and sellers of fuel and sugar products” and had “close ties with the most important people in the industry.”
He told potential investors he could create gargantuan returns for a small advance fee.
“In return for money detained from investments in advance, Garrido promised to generate staggering returns of 15 times, 20 times or more of an investor’s advance fee,” his admission states. “Garrido promised to provide returns within a short time frame, typically 30 to 45 banking days.”
Trendshare.org’s breakdown of return on investment percentages says “A really good return on investment for an active investor is 15 percent annually. It’s aggressive, but it’s achievable if you put in time to look for bargains.”
Garrido was promising a 1,500% or 2,000% return on investment in in six to nine weeks.
To allay investor concerns, Garrido told them their money would be held by attorney Peter Block in an escrow account. Also, Garrido claimed his U.S. Treasury Notes and a $30 million standby letter of credit from JP Morgan Chase would be collateral, guaranteeing investors would get their principal back.
But the Treasury Notes didn’t exist. Neither did the JP Morgan Chase letter of credit, despite fraudulent emails from a financial adviser backing up Garrido’s claim.
And as soon as investor money hit Block’s account, he took some and sent the rest to Garrido.
This is how investors lost $5,674,831 to Garrido.
Investor “L.A.” claimed in his pre-sentencing letter to the court that he put $500,000 in escrow Feb. 7, 2013, after making an agreement with Garrido.
“The primary consequence of the loss of $500,000 was the loss of my home and the anticipated loss of my brother’s home,” L.A. wrote the court. “In addition, both my brother and I, instead of being able to enjoy retirement, are now, at our respective ages of 72 and 69, working full time. Hopefully we will both be able to earn sufficient funds to enable us to actually retire at some point in time.”
Another investor, “S.G.” from California, said before investing $100,000 with Garrido’s G&C Investments, he “shopped carefully” for a place to invest money he’d inherited from his father.
“I finally settled on the G&C investment because of its alleged safety and promised return on investment,” S.G. wrote. “I spent years checking on the status of the investment, and was continually given false hope. During this time, I did not have any more funds to invest, and found myself spending down the remaining inheritance, still in anticipation of my return on investment based upon Mr. Garrido’s promises.
“As a result, I now do not have any future financial security,” he continued. “I have no further funds to invest, and may have to relocate. I am not a young man, so this is a problem. There is no retirement income except a modest social security check which is barely enough to survive. My savings have dwindled considerably.
“I hold Mr. Garrido fully responsible for my current financial insecurity.”