CHARLOTTE, N.C (STL.News) U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that Bryan John Cohen, 45, of Indian Trail, N.C. pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for operating an investment scheme that defrauded investors of more than $385,000. U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler presided over today’s plea hearing.
Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in North Carolina, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and today’s plea hearing, from 2015 to 2020, Cohen defrauded at least 10 victims of more than $385,000, by inducing them to invest money in his purported investment businesses, OTC Bully, Ascension Trading, and Recharge Investments, and in other business ventures. Court records show that Cohen falsely represented to victim investors, most of whom were Cohen’s friends and acquaintances, that he was a financially savvy investor with a successful track record in the financial industry, and that he would invest their funds using a computer algorithm called the “Dewey System.”
As Cohen admitted today in court, to convince victims their investments were legitimate, Cohen provided them with bogus Investment Agreements that purported, among other things, that Cohen would not charge any investment fees, and that the money would be invested in a manner “expected of a reputable, experienced and competent professional investment manager.” To further lull victims-investors into thinking their investments were safe, Cohen supplied them with fake profit and loss sheets on a monthly basis, which falsely indicated the victims’ investments were growing.
Contrary to claims Cohen made to his victims, court documents show that Cohen did not invest their money as promised. Rather, Cohen used the money to pay for personal expenses and to make Ponzi-style payments to older investors using new investors’ money.
Cohen pleaded guilty to wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years, and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the FBI in Charlotte, and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Special Operations and Intelligence Unit, for their investigation, which led to today’s guilty plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Vento, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.