NEWARK – A Union County-based investment company and its owner will pay $8.25 million to settle a lawsuit filed when investors were defrauded through a Ponzi scheme and unauthorized investment of funds, under terms of a Final Judgment and Consent Order.
Anthony Lucchetto Jr., owner of Serafino Holdings, L.L.C., is permanently barred from working in the state’s securities industry, under the settlement approved by Superior Court Judge John F. Malone.
The New Jersey Bureau of Securities within the Division of Consumer Affairs filed suit against Lucchetto Jr. and Serafino Holdings in 2009, alleging that they put investors’ monies into a fund to be used for commercial bridge loans in construction projects that turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. Lucchetto Jr. also shifted some monies to his father.
“Lucchetto and his companies took investors’ hard-earned monies and guaranteed high rates of return on their investments Instead, investors lost money because of the lies and fraud committed by this con artist,” Attorney General Paula T. Dow said.
Lucchetto Jr. told investors that their invested funds were 99% secured by asset liens and they would receive 6.5% quarterly rates of return on their investments. Lucchetto Jr. previously had been registered with the Bureau of Securities as an agent and investment adviser representative but was not registered at the time he was making most of these solicitations and taking money from investors.
“Lies, rather than lucrative investments, fueled this Ponzi scheme,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “Deceptions such as this underscore the importance of performing due diligence and verifying that the investment, as well as the person offering the investment, are registered with our Bureau of Securities.”
Bureau of Securities investigators identified approximately 75 affected investors. The settlement requires disgorgement and payment of $7.2 million in restitution to the investors, plus payment of $1.05 million in civil penalties to the state. The Bureau of Securities previously requested and obtained court approval to freeze Lucchetto Jr’s. and the company’s assets and to seize records and computers.
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