ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 14 -- The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida issued the following news release:
United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that the U.S. Department of Justice has authorized the return of $10,129,254.56 to victims of the Traders International Return Network (TIRN) fraud. Operators of TIRN deceived investors by making claims that investments in TIRN, as advertised on www.MyTirn.com, would yield exceptionally high returns not achievable anywhere in the legitimate business world. These claims were made via the Internet and at business opportunity meetings. Specifically, investors were told they could receive between 9% and 22% in returns on their investment, per month. While TIRN advertised on its website that investments were made in the FOREX market, the buying and selling of commodities, the purchase of gold mines in Africa, and the buying and selling of real estate, such investments were not actually made on behalf of TIRN's investors.
TIRN investors were not actually told where their money was being invested. TIRN's website merely indicated that it "pool[ed] investor funds" for the investments and that "professional money managers" managed such investments. However, federal law requires that entities or individuals be licensed and registered in order to serve as a pool operator for the purpose of purchasing commodities. Neither TIRN nor any of its operators held any type of investment license with the National Futures Association or the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission.
In total, TIRN collected more than $15 million from more than 500 investors (both domestic and international). TIRN's operators misappropriated some of those investors' funds for their own personal benefit. They used the money to purchase vehicles, buy homes, pay off home mortgages, and also sent money to accounts that they controlled both in the United States and overseas.
The U.S. Attorney's Office completed the criminal forfeiture against more than $10 million worth of assets obtained through the TIRN fraud. Three individuals were prosecuted for their roles in this scheme. David Merrick, Japheth Paramanandam, and Nathan Betances all received prison sentences (8 years, 5 years and 5 years, respectively) as a result of their roles in the fraud.
"The enforcement of asset forfeiture laws is an integral part of our law enforcement mission," said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III. "By recovering the ill-gotten gains of criminals, and returning them to victims, we hope to send a clear message to the public - that we will use every tool available to disrupt and dismantle criminal activities, and take the profit out of crime."
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. The forfeitures were handled by Assistant United States Attorney Nicole Andrejko.
Victims of this scheme were notified throughout the criminal process, and as a result, had an opportunity to share in the forfeiture proceeds. Official decisions and remission distributions have already occurred. The Department of Justice is no longer accepting petitions for remission.