A convenience store employee from Tarrytown has consented to paying nearly $706,000 in restitution and penalties for ripping off customers in a phony foreign currency trading scheme.
U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel approved the consent order June 2, against Eyal Alper and in favor of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Alper “cheated and defrauded” investors, according to Seibel’s order, by “willfully and recklessly misappropriating customers’ funds.”
Alper neither admitted nor denied the allegations, according to the consent order, but agreed to make no public statements denying the findings of fact.
When the CFTC sued Alper last October, the agency had identified nine victims and $280,000 in losses. Now the government claims he scammed 13 investors and stole $352,901 from 2015 to 2019.
He had represented himself as a successful trader and boasted that he had grown one account from $40,000 to $400,000.
He told investors that he could open subaccounts in their names and trade for them, under his $1 million master account with a foreign exchange dealer.
In fact, he had never been registered with the CFTC, did not have a foreign exchange account, placed no trades for anyone and gave his customers fictitious account statements.
He charged a 30% commission on fake profits and used the funds to pay for personal expenses, such as international travel, restaurants and car rentals.
Nine customers eventually asked for their money back, but Alper either ignored them or made excuses, claiming, for instance, that his books were being audited by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Unless restrained and enjoined by this court,” the consent order states, “there is a reasonable likelihood that Alper will continue to engage in the acts and practices alleged in the complaint.”
Seibel permanently barred Alper from trading commodities for himself or on behalf of any person or entity. She ordered him to pay back $352,901 to his customers and a $352,901 civil penalty to the CFTC.
It is unclear whether Alper has the means to pay back anyone. Two months before the CFTC sued him last year, he filed a Chapter 7 liquidation petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, White Plains.
He declared $3,200 in assets and $230,400 in liabilities. He listed himself as a 7-Eleven store manager in Irving, Texas, and claimed he had made nearly $15,000 last year, $893 in 2018 and $800 in 2017. He made no mention of owning a business.
Bankruptcy court has granted Alper a discharge of his debts.
The consent order does not specify when Alper must pay up.
But interest will accrue on whatever he owes, and if the CFTC believes that Alper is not attempting to comply in good faith, the agency may compel payment through contempt proceedings. His victims also may seek to enforce the payment obligations.
“The parties have struck a balance which allows some degree of flexibility,” according to a joint letter the attorneys sent to the judge, “while at the same time providing disincentives for defendant’s failure to comply with the order on an expeditious and good-faith basis.”
Alper was represented by Staten Island attorney John J. Macron. The CFTC was represented by staff attorney Alan Edelman.