Federal Court Orders Defendants to Pay More Than $2.7 Million in Connection with Commodity Pool Fraud

CFTCWashington, DC – The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that defendants Thomas Lanzana (dba Unique Forex), who formerly resided in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and his company Blackbox Pulse, LLC of North Bergen, New Jersey, along with Nikolay Masanko and his company, White Cloud Mountain, LLC of St. Augustine, Florida, have been permanently enjoined from engaging in conduct that violates the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). Additionally, they have been ordered to pay $762,807.24 in restitution, as well as a civil monetary penalty of $1.95 million in connection with a commodity pool fraud investment scheme involving retail off-exchange foreign currency (forex).

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey entered an order of default judgment and permanent injunction (Order) against the defendants following a CFTC Complaint filed on August 21, 2017. [See CFTC Press Release 7605-17]  In the Order, issued on March 15, 2019, Judge Madeline Cox Arleo found that the CFTC had sufficiently pled CEA violations by alleging that the defendants emailed customers account statements and links to YouTube videos showing forex trades that never happened and profits that did not exist, misrepresented that customer funds were being held in Blackbox Pulse or Unique Forex forex trading accounts when, in fact, they were not, and misappropriated customer funds.

In entering this order, the court found that the defendants fraudulently solicited and accepted funds from customers for the purported purpose of trading forex.  Further, the court found that the defendants maintained the trust of their customers by providing fabricated account statements, links to YouTube videos describing trades and profits, and sending falsified annual tax documents to customers.  The court also found that Lanzana misappropriated customer funds by using some of those funds to pay other customers, compensate Masanko for customers that he solicited, and for his personal use.

A related criminal case was filed against Lanzana in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on August 10, 2018.  See Case No. 2:18-mj-03676-MF, USA v. Lanzana.  The criminal case, which includes two counts charging wire fraud and commodities fraud, is pending before Judge Mark Falk.

The CFTC cautions victims that restitution orders may not result in the recovery of money lost because the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets.  The CFTC will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers and to ensure the wrongdoers are held accountable.

The Division of Enforcement thanks the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey and the FBI Newark Division for their invaluable assistance and cooperation.

The CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Joy McCormack, Susan Padove and Stephanie Reinhart and former staff members Ava Gould and Rosemary Hollinger.