Johanna Garcia, Florida’s ‘Mother Teresa,’ Charged in $196M Ponzi Scheme

A Florida man and a woman who was “often referred to as ‘Mother Teresa’” have been charged with running a $196 million Ponzi scheme, a Securities & Exchange Commission filing shows. Pavel Ruiz, 29, from Fort Lauderdale, was accused of personally netting $6.5 million from $42 million defrauded from investors through companies run by Johanna M. Garcia. Garcia, of North Lauderdale, had a blog post on one of her companies’ sites saying she was “often referred to as ‘Mother Teresa’ in her community” because she found ways to “help hard working individuals make money.” The SEC’s filing against Ruiz says Garcia’s companies were run as a Ponzi scheme which “from at least June 2020 until August 2021, raised more than $196 million from more than 15,400 investors nationwide through an unregistered fraudulent securities offering.” The alleged scheme involved Garcia’s company selling itself to investors as a company making merchant cash advances (MCA) to businesses in need of cash quickly. “But only a small fraction of investor funds was used to make MCAs,” the SEC filing against Ruiz said, adding that most of the cash was instead used to “pay fictitious returns” to investors and other purposes.

Read it at Tampa Bay Times


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