Fraudster sentenced for $40M Ponzi scheme, swindling NYC real estate company
Franklin Ray diverted funds for personal expenses, jet-setting
A Michigan man was sentenced last week for his role in multiple frauds, including a $40 million Ponzi scheme and bilking a New York City-based real estate company out of $175,000.
Franklin Ray, 52, of Canton, Michigan, was sentenced to 212 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, according to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ray pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, admitting his involvement in multiple fraudulent activities.
Ray deceived a New York City-based real estate company into paying $175,000 in startup costs for a non-existent joint venture. He misled the company about his business experience and his company’s operations, diverting the funds for personal expenses, including private airplane trips.
That was far from the biggest scheme he orchestrated, which was a $40 million Ponzi scheme, dubbed the “Truck Investment Scheme,” which targeted investors for his trucking and logistics company, CSA Business Solutions LLC.
Under false pretenses, Ray promised investors significant returns on trucks supposedly offering delivery services for multinational e-commerce and shipping companies.
In reality, CSA Business Solutions operated few trucks, generating minimal revenues from trucking. Ray falsified spreadsheets to deceive approximately 275 investors into contributing at least $40 million, falsely claiming the purchase of over 2,000 trucks.
Ray also pled guilty to COVID-19-related fraud, securing over $1.9 million in government-guaranteed loans meant to aid small businesses during the pandemic. These schemes involved CSA Business Solutions and another Michigan-based trucking company.
Ray submitted fabricated information and forged documents to the Small Business Administration and lenders, falsely portraying substantial trucking business activities.
Despite his arrest in March 2022 and the subsequent seizure of a CSA Business Solutions bank account, Ray continued operating the Truck Investment Scheme, concealing his arrest and the fund seizure from investors. He opened new bank accounts, defrauding investors of an additional $1.9 million during this post-arrest period.
In addition to the 212-month prison sentence, Ray faces five years of supervised release, forfeiture of $42 million, including a 1968 Chevy Camaro, and restitution to be determined.
Ray had a previous conviction for bank fraud and wire fraud in the Eastern District of Michigan, serving a two-year sentence and being released in 2010.