uFun Club lawyer argues legality of pyramid schemes
When your clients are busted pushing a $1.18 billion dollar Ponzi scheme, there’s not really much you can present by way of their defense.
Still, they’re paying you money so you’ve got to come up with something.
Cue absurd reasoning and logic from defense attorney Leota Schuster.
Schuster is representing Nicolas Giannos, Rosita Stanfield and an unidentified 74-year-old Pastor, who are
jointly charged with 8 counts of obtaining monies by deception.
Two of the 3 accused are separately charged with falsifying accounts, one with 2 counts and the other with 1 count.
Earlier this year the trio were busted scamming local business out of almost one million dollars.
Leota stated at the outset of his submission that there were no evidence to support prosecution’s case against his clients and that everything presented at the trial were either ‘circumstantial or hearsay’.
Broad generalizations aside, Schuster asserted that it couldn’t be proven that anyone had actually been deceived.
Defense emphasized the word ‘deceit’ as the core foundation of his argument. Of the 8 investors called as witnesses, only 6 testified, the other 2 were not called.
According to Leota, none of the 6 investors called by prosecution testified that they were deceived. “The question is, who has been deceived?” asked Leota.
The investors were led to believe they were investing in a legitimate cryptocurrency.
That was a sham, with uFun Club simply using newly invested funds to pay off existing investors.
Whether or not those deceived acknowledge they were deceived is immaterial to the fact that they were deceived.
I’d even go so far as to argue that they don’t acknowledge their being deceived is proof enough of the deception.
Ponzi schemes by nature are deceptive frauds, that’s widely accepted and not up for debate.
According to Leota, prosecution has taken a parental responsibility over the citizen by making the claim of deception on behalf of the investors.
Well duh, that’s what regulators do.
Trying to play the “big government” card? Yes, let’s let Ponzi scammers run riot… and only after their victims have lost money should we let regulators intervene (and then complain about how they should have done something earlier).
Schuster also seemed to think testimony from Thai authorities, who busted uFun Club back in April and lead the way with investigating it, was “a waste of time”.
CBS (brought) in a Thailand police general to testify to which Leota said was ‘a waste of time’.
The Thailand general admitted an ongoing investigation against a UFun Store Company in Thailand which is a different entity from the UFun Group.
Somewhat ironically, given Schuster’s feeling arguments about deception, therein lies his own.
uFun Club = uFun Store = uFun Group = Unascos. They are all one and the same, run by scammers out of Malaysia.
Claiming otherwise is… deceptive.
According to Leota, prosecution tried to pull UFun Store and UFun Group to trial as one entity.
“Nofoaiga’s evidence is questionable, tainted and was influenced by the similarity of the name UFun Group and UFun Store Company, and the fact that there was an investigation in Thailand,” said Leota.
He said unless witnesses from the ongoing case in Thailand are called to testify, everything the police general said should be treated as hearsay, as he had no idea how the operation in Thailand is done.
Oh Schuster, now you’re just trying to waste everybody’s time…
What’s the bet that even if said Thai victims are brought to testify, Schuster then dismisses their testimony as hearsay? You know that’s totally where he’s going with this strawman argument…
Now, as bizarre as Schuster’s arguments have been thus far – nothing compares to the absurd logic fail he pulled out next.
That being, Schuster’s argument that deceptive pyramid schemes should be legal.
In trying to clarify the differences between pyramid scams and pyramid schemes, Leota explained the different characteristics needed to accommodate the 2 pyramids.
Pyramid scams is an obvious illegal way of robbing people, whereas, pyramid scheme, is a scheme where people invest for their own personal development..
What “investing in personal development” has to do with pyramid scheme fraud I have no idea. But Schuster’s logic-fail conclusion is hilarious:
In order for the pyramid scheme to be successful, its members need to recruit more members for the group to grow successfully, and according to Leota, recruitment is a necessary characteristic for pyramid schemes.
“There is no evidence that the accused encouraged investors during their presentation to recruit more members,” he argued.
Do I really need to point out this entire case came about because the clients Schuster is representing were caught red-handed trying to “recruit more members”.
Those recruited didn’t even have a chance to recruit new investors of their own, as police moved quickly to arrest the scammers as they tried to flee.
Job well done.
Leota argued that if there was any corrupt or misleading motive behind the presentation, why would they choose to present to the Government or publicly.
He also argued that if ‘deceptive’ was in the presentation, then prosecution needs to pin point exactly ‘where it was deceptive.’
- Because they wanted money.
- “Where was a Ponzi scheme deceptive”? Oh I dunno, how about everywhere…
“Investors claimed that they knew what they were investing in and they did it at their own risk,” argued Leota.
Which, yet again, has nothing to do with them being deceived into investing in a $1.18 billion dollar Ponzi scheme.
Futhermore, that a defense lawyer would use an argument straight out of “Ponzi excuses 101” is rather concerning.
I can guarantee you now Giannos, Stanfield and the pastor did not inform those they sought investments from that any projected ROIs were dependent on investments from subsequent investors. And should those not materialize, they’d each lose the $100,000 they invested.
Instead they were fed porky-pie presentations about a fictitious uToken cryptocurrency. And we know this because we’ve seen the presentations made.
Prosecution is yet to make their final submission.
Here’s hoping they tear apart Schuster’s paper-thin arguments, with justice delivered by way of a harsh sentence.
Nicolas Giannos and Rosita Stanfield believed, with the help of a local pastor (a straight-up affinity fraud play), that they’d have no problems landing in Samoa and then running off with a million dollars in Ponzi loot.
Even in a country as small as Samoa, that cannot be permitted to stand.