The federal investigation into fraudulent co-working Ponzi scheme Bar Works has now landed its first conviction.
Federal prosecutors announced on Monday that British national James Moore was found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy for engaging in a scheme to defraud investors, due to his involvement with the New York-based startup founded by fellow Brit Renwick Haddow. The trial lasted one week and the conviction was handed down on Friday.
“James Moore was part of a ring of insiders who helped conceal that Bar Works was run by a known fraudster,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “Innocent and unaware investors lost millions of dollars thanks to his contributions to the scheme. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who prey upon the investing public.”
Each charge against Moore carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. According to Law360, Moore is already serving an 18-month prison sentence in Florida, for his involvement in real estate fraud at the failed Grand Palisades resort near Walt Disney World.
Haddow, the scheme’s mastermind who was extradited to the U.S. from Morocco last year, has admitted to his involvement in both Bar Works and a separate bitcoin-related scheme, and has agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation, according to a guilty plea unsealed last month.
According to the charges against Moore, he and other Bar Works associates knowingly misled investors by claiming that the company was run by a certain “Jonathan Black” – an alias of Haddow’s designed to conceal his role and to avoid negative publicity. Moore received more than $1.6 million in commissions for his role in the scheme, which is believed to have defrauded investors of more than $50 million in total.
The Real Deal first exposed Haddow’s connection to the company in January 2017, and investors from around the world filed several lawsuits against the firm that summer after months of missed payments. The company, which operated combination bar-and-office spaces across the U.S. and in Istanbul, sold securities tied to the rental income from its desks at these various locations.
Another U.K. national, Savraj Gata-Aura, was arrested last month and also charged in connection with the Bar Works scheme. Gata-Aura, who allegedly made more than $3 million from the startup, has yet to convicted.