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SEC charges Boynton man with New York fraud

By Palm Beach

BOYNTON BEACH — The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing a Boynton Beach man for allegedly participating in a massive Ponzi scheme that promised investors returns as high as 14 percent in a matter of weeks.

In the suit filed Wednesday in federal court in New York, the SEC alleges that Anthony Massaro, 40, of Boynton Beach was one of 15 agents who sold securities of Agape World Inc. to at least 5,000 investors, taking them for as much as $415 million.

Massaro alone sold Agape securities to 826 investors and earning more than $5.9 million, according to the SEC. Agape made “bridge” loans to businesses; Massaro and other agents sold interests in those loans to investors, claiming they would generate returns between 8 and 19 percent in a matter of a few weeks.

The agents also told prospective investors that the loans were 99 percent safe, meaning that at most they would lose only 1 percent of their money if the loans went south.

The SEC also alleged that Massaro fabricated customer statements that showed the “performance” of their investments.

The problem was that Massaro and the others were not registered with the SEC to sell securities, and the Agape securities themselves were likewise unregistered with the SEC. Meanwhile, many of the loans that supposedly were the source of the juicy returns had actually defaulted.

Last month, the FBI arrested Massaro in his Boynton Beach home, charging him with mail fraud in connection with the scheme. The FBI charged three other Agape agents as well.

Agape founder Nicholas Cosmos was convicted of fraud last October and is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Before joining Agape World, Massaro served time for heroin importation and served time at the Allenwood Federal Corrections Institution in Pennsylvania where he met Cosmo, who was doing time for an earlier fraud, according to the Long Island Business News.

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