SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico–A Puerto Rican man has been accused of defrauding investors of more than US$2.3 million through a Ponzi scheme targeting unsuspecting factory workers and evangelical Christians, federal authorities said Tuesday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Ricardo Bonilla Rojas raised US$7 million from as many as 200 investors, the majority of them in Puerto Rico and others in Florida, New York and North Carolina.
The alleged scheme is one of the largest uncovered in the U.S. territory, said Eric Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami regional office.
The SEC said Bonilla marketed his company, Shadai Yire, in conversations with people including factory workers and in presentations to evangelical Christian groups, promising returns of up to 50 percent.
Bonilla pleaded not guilty at a court hearing Tuesday morning and was released on US$130,000 bail, with a judge ordering him to home confinement.