Man wanted by FBI for Ponzi scheme charged for stealing $100M from investors

Darren Anthony Robinson

An investment firm operator has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme that amassed $100 million from investors in Detroit federal court, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced Wednesday.

Darren Anthony Robinson, 53, a U.S. citizen who has operated out of the country of Panama, was charged with committing wire fraud. Robinson appeared today in federal court in Detroit to make his initial appearance. Robinson faces up to 20 years in prison on the charge of wire fraud.

Robinson had been wanted by the FBI for wire fraud and money laundering and had purported ties to Panama, the United Arab Emirates, and Columbia.

According to the complaint, which was unsealed today, Robinson operated a supposed trading firm known as "QYU," which was located in Panama and the Cayman Islands.

The complaint alleges that QYU was simply a Ponzi scheme. Investor funds were largely not used for trading activity. Instead, new investor funds were used to pay other investor distributions, cover QYU business expenses, compensate QYU employees, and fund Robinson’s lifestyle. 

QYU investors were provided with false account statements and fictitious trading data.

The complaint indicates that QYU obtained an estimated $100 million from investors.

QYU represented to investors that it was consistently generating stellar investment results. For example, in one QYU document, the firm claimed that a $100,000 investment into its fund in 2014 would have grown to over $2 million by 2021.

That same document claimed the fund did not have a single losing month over that same period. QYU investors were promised guaranteed returns and told the firm was only paid on trading profits, not investor principal.

The complaint alleges a brazen investment fraud that victimized investors around the world, Ison's office said.

My office will work tirelessly to investigate and prosecute those who defraud others and undermine the financial system," said U.S. Attorney Ison.

"This defendant allegedly orchestrated a large-scale, multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme with victims across the globe," said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. "Investment fraud can be crippling for its victims, and the FBI is committed to identifying and working with anyone impacted by this scheme."

Related: 'Many' victims in $100 million Ponzi scheme after man charged in Detroit

"Illegal activity involving the investment industry, especially Ponzi schemes, has brought financial ruin to many Americans, said Charles Miller, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, using our financial investigative expertise to help put a stop to this and other types of white-collar crime in Michigan."

Law enforcement has identified many apparent QYU investors from southeast Michigan.

Potential victims are encouraged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at holdings victims (Please note that the link to the website is case sensitive)

Ison was joined in the announcement by James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Division