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Financial Crimes

Pennsylvania man pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Thursday to federal wire fraud charges in connection with a Ponzi scheme. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI conducted the investigation.

Constant Damas, 45, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in connection with the scheme that defrauded more than 20 investors out of more than $1 million. U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger announced Damas' plea. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30.

The investigation revealed that between 2007 through the end of 2012, Damas, an account manager at Coca-Cola Company, misrepresented to various individuals, including family members and friends in his Haitian community, that he was an investment manager at Coca-Cola. He told his victims that, through this position, he could invest their money in Coca-Cola's investment opportunities. In fact, Damas did not hold this position and no such opportunities existed.

To entice his victims, Damas would often collect a sum of money from them as their initial investment. He told the victims they would receive an interest payment of a certain amount every month, and they could receive their initial investment upon request. Damas, however, did not return his victims' initial investment back to them. Additionally, many of the victims never received any funds or interest payments from Damas. When he was arrested in February, Damas admitted to federal agents that this was a scam business.

Damas faces up to 40 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $500,000 fine, a $200 special assessment, and the imposition of full restitution to his victims.