Bar Works Ponzi scheme co-conspirator sentenced to 11 years

James Moore lured investors to fraudulent co-working company scheme

(Getty Images, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
(Getty Images, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

One of the co-conspirators in the Bar Works co-working Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

James Moore received the sentence on Feb. 1, almost three years after federal prosecutors announced the British national as the first conviction in its investigation into the New York-based startup. Moore has also been ordered to pay $58 million in restitution.

The co-working company was at the center of a scheme to defraud more than 800 investors of more than $57 million, prosecutors for the Southern District of New York said.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman recommended Moore serve his sentence in a prison close to his Miami home, Crain’s reported. Moore previously served an 18-month sentence in Florida for involvement in real estate fraud at the failed Grand Palisades resort near Walt Disney World.

In 2019, Moore was found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy for engaging in a scheme connected to the startup founded by fellow Brit Renwick Haddow. Each charge carried a maximum sentence of 20 years.

According to the charges, Moore and other Bar Works associates knowingly misled investors by claiming the company was run by “Jonathan Black,” an alias for Haddow. Moore received more than $1.6 million in commissions for his role. The scheme is believed to have defrauded investors out of more than $50 million.

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Haddow’s connection to the company was first exposed by The Real Deal in January 2017.

Investors from around the world filed lawsuits against Haddow that summer after months of missed payments. The shuttered company operated combination bar-and-office spaces in the United States and Istanbul, selling securities tied to the rental income from desks at these locations.

Bar Works co-founder Savraj Gata-Aura in July 2020 received the first prison sentence in connection with the Ponzi scheme. Gata-Aura was sentenced to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to one criminal count. He is serving his sentence in a West Virginia prison.

Haddow, who’s considered the scheme’s mastermind, was extradited from Morocco to the United States in 2019 and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation. He has admitted his involvement in both the Bar Works scheme and a separate Bitcoin-related scheme. Haddow pleaded guilty to four criminal counts and is set to be sentenced on April 8, according to Crain’s.