A Westchester-based investment adviser is alleged to have duped investors into funding a fictitious hedge fund in what the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission described as a “Ponzi-like scheme” Thursday.
Beginning in 2010, Michael Scronic raised funds from 42 friends and acquaintances, totally nearly $21 million, telling them of his track record of success while misrepresenting the liquidity of their investments, according to the SEC. Regulators
Regulators say that, in reality, Scronic was “hemorrhaging investor money.” Since April 2010, the SEC said, Scronic has lost at least $15 million. This, even as he reported at the end of June that he controlled nearly $22 million in assets. The balance in his brokerage account at the time was $27,500. Over the seven year time period, Scronic experienced losses in 79 of 89 accounts, according to the SEC.
“Scronic’s alleged scheme is just another example of a so-called investment professional acting as fiduciary, but failing to deal honestly with his investors for his own financial benefit,” Lara Mehraban, associate regional director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, said in a statement. “Investors should be wary anytime they are promised high or consistently positive returns in a complex, hard to understand investment strategy.”
As his accounts ran low, regulators say Scronic tried to dodge investor requests to redeem their funds. A steady stream of excuses ensued, according to the SEC. As recently as August, an investor allegedly attempted to redeem a $200,000 investment plus the returns attributed to the account by Scronic. What Scronic did not do, regulators say, was disclose the losses and personal use of funds for the unnamed investor, and that the account held less than $6,000 in cash and securities.
At one point, Scronic sought additional funds from new and existing investors as a way to honor redemption requests from other investors.
Scronic is charged with three Securities and Exchange Act violations. Regulators are SEC seeking a permanent injunction, disgorgement, and penalties against Scronic. According to the SEC, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is pursuing criminal charges against Scronic.
Counsel for Scronic was unidentified at the time of publication.