December 20, 2016 / 4:55 PM / 8 months ago

U.S. prosecutors say Peruvian ran fraud out of Trump Building

NEW YORK, Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities on Tuesday arrested a Peruvian man who, to lure investors, posted an online video featuring the New York Stock Exchange and himself in front of the nearby Trump Building, where he had an office, on charges that he engaged in a $1.2 million fraud.

Pedro Jaramillo, 47, raised funds from over two dozen investors since 2014, mainly to invest in commodity futures contracts with a promise of a guaranteed rate of return, according to a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

He advertised his services in a YouTube video, flashing images of Wall Street, the stock exchange and himself standing before the Trump Building, a 72-story building at 40 Wall Street owned by President-elect Donald Trump, the complaint said.

"Why do you think large companies and financial institutions invest in Wall Street?" Jaramillo asked in Spanish in the video, the complaint said. "It is the heart of capitalism at a worldwide level. And I want to introduce you to it."

While Jaramillo raised $1.2 million, he failed to invest the money as promised, using more than $700,000 to fund his lifestyle, including thousands of dollars on three vacations with family and guests to Disney World, the complaint said.

To hide the misappropriation, Jaramillo began operating in a "Ponzi-like fashion," it said, distributing over $200,000 to investors from newly deposited funds.

Jaramillo, who also went by the name Enrique Jaramillo, was arrested on charges of commodities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, prosecutors said. He was expected in court later on Tuesday.

A lawyer for Jaramillo could not immediately be identified.

According to the complaint, several of Jaramillo's victims were lured into the fraud only after meeting with him at his office in the Trump Building, which was taken over in 1995 by the Republican real estate magnate.

No one involved in the building was accused of wrongdoing.

Jaramillo was arrested as the Federal Bureau of Investigation became convinced he was planning to leave the country, the complaint said.

Jaramillo had stopped returning calls from investors, who learned he planned to move back to Peru, where he had diverted more than $100,000 of investor funds, the complaint said.

The case is U.S. v. Jaramillo, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-mj-8134. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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