FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Former Williamsburg Man Indicted for Operating a Ponzi Scheme,
Stealing Over $1.3 Million from More Than 20 Victims
Defendant Allegedly Spent Stolen Funds on Rent, Restaurants and Travel;
Victims Include Church in Queens and Numerous Churchgoers
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a former Williamsburg man has been arraigned on a 56-count indictment in which he is charged with stealing over $1.3 million from over 20 people in a Ponzi scheme in which he allegedly posed as a securities broker and wooed investors with promises of high rates of return. It is alleged the defendant did not invest the victims’ funds in the stock market as promised, but instead spent the money on rent, restaurants, travel, and leasing luxury cars.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly defrauded over 20 hardworking people out of their savings in what amounted to an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Our investigation revealed that he targeted many churchgoers whose trust he allegedly betrayed. Financial fraud will be investigated and prosecuted vigorously by my Office with the goal of making victims whole and holding alleged swindlers accountable.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Mark Ramkishun, 28, of Orlando, Florida. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Phyllis Chu on a 56-count indictment in which he is charged with second-, third-, and fourth-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, issuing false financial statements, and violations of the Martin Act. He was ordered released without bail and to return to court on February 15, 2023.
The District Attorney said that, between March 2019 and September 2022, the defendant allegedly operated a fraudulent investment scheme in which he told his victims he was a securities broker and solicited them to invest $20,000 or more in his company, Leo Growl LLC. The defendant claimed to be able to achieve monthly returns of $2,000 to $3,000 for every $20,000 invested and had his victims sign bogus contracts with him. After obtaining the money, the defendant allegedly provided his victims with false brokerage statements from E*TRADE Securities that purported to show monthly trading profits, which did not, in fact, exist.
According to the investigation, the defendant did not invest the victims’ funds in the stock market as promised, nor did the defendant open brokerage accounts on behalf of the victims at a broker-dealer. Instead, the defendant allegedly embezzled the funds, paying for rent in Brooklyn, and living a lavish lifestyle that included leasing luxury cars and paying for restaurants and travel. The defendant purportedly diverted some of the money obtained from new investors to pay previous investors. Approximately $360,000 of his victims’ money was allegedly dispersed this way.
According to the investigation, many of the defendant’s victims were members of the Healing Center Church in Ozone Park, Queens, where the defendant’s parents are former members and served as church elders before moving to Florida in 2021. The church itself invested with the defendant, making it the largest known victim of the alleged Ponzi scheme.
The case was investigated following a tip to the District Attorney’s Action Center.
The case is being prosecuted by Special Counsel for Complex Investigations Michael Choi, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicole Lauterbach, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.