Michael Zuno Zuniga of Fullerton, California was sentenced to five years in Los Angeles County jail and ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution for his part in a Ponzi scheme that preyed on senior citizens in the Los Angeles area. The attorney general’s office filed a complaint alleging 57 counts against Zuniga, including securities fraud, grand theft, elder abuse, burglary, and conspiracy. The complaint further alleged that Zuniga defrauded senior citizens of about $1.5 million through his extremely organized and complex Ponzi scheme. Zuniga’s conduct is alarming as he used his position as a licensed agent to defraud senior citizens. As such an agent, Zuniga owned and conducted business as the Omega Investment Group, an unlicensed entity in Downey, California.
An investigation by the California Department of Insurance and the California Department of Justice discovered a Ponzi scheme targeting Latino seniors through in-home solicitations, through which Zuniga issued more than $1.3 million in fraudulent securities. Eighteen victims were identified in Los Angeles County. Zuniga helped a number of his victims refinance their homes so that they could invest in his scheme. He falsely represented to his victims that Omega was a profitable business that bought and sold foreclosed real estate. He also led his victims to believe that such investments guaranteed a 15% secured interest annually to those invested.
Omega, however, was discovered to not have bought or sold any property for three years before January 2007. The investigation found that Omega was neither a profitable business nor did it secure investments with property or any other assets as promised. Omega’s owners diverted $663,000 of the $1.5 million collected to buy real estate for a group known as Homes Brought Current and then used the funds for personal benefit. Payments Omega made to new investors were from prior investor funds, rather than business profit.
If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of an investment, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies.