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Fake N.J. Advisor Indicted for $2.1M Scam

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An unlicensed advisor in Penns Grove, New Jersey, was indicted after scamming about 122 clients out of more than $2.1 million, according to William M. McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Alexander S. Rowland, 29, was charged with seven counts of mail fraud, 30 counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of investment advisor fraud and two counts of money laundering related to a scam in which he claimed to be an investment advisor, McSwain said.

The indictment was unsealed Tuesday after being filed Sept. 22 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The indictment said Rowland, a former warehouse operator, started the company Roaring Investments, which he initially ran out of his apartment, in July 2016.

The defendant told potential investors he was a licensed investment advisor who would invest their money in stocks and cryptocurrency, and promised them a minimum rate of return of 25%, with potential returns of 50% or higher, the indictment alleged. Through those and other misrepresentations, Rowland was able to trick his victims into investing nearly $3 million in Roaring Investments, according to the indictment.

In reality, however, Rowland did not hold any licenses to sell securities of offer investment advice and, instead of investing all his clients’ money in securities and crypto, he pocketed much of it, the indictment alleged.

He invested only about $518,000 of the almost $3 million he obtained from his clients, and those investments lost more than $100,000. The remaining client funds (almost $2.5 million) were used by Rowland in ways never disclosed to his clients, including spending more than $1 million on himself by: taking large cash withdrawals; paying his own personal bills; buying luxury vehicles; paying for vacations and jewelry; paying for gym memberships; and buying more than $47,000 worth of firearms, according to the indictment.

The indictment also said Rowland was able to deceive his clients into believing their investments were safe and profitable through a variety of fraudulent means, including by operating a Ponzi scheme in which he used new client funds to make payments to earlier clients who had invested with Roaring Investments, fooling the earlier clients into believing their investments were making money, the indictment alleged.

Rowland received and ignored an August 2018 cease and desist letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities that instructed Roaring Investments to stop selling unregistered securities and for Rowland to stop serving as an unlicensed advisor, according to the indictment.

Rowland faces a maximum sentence of 835 years in prison, a five-year period of supervised release, a fine of $15.3 million and a $4,200 special assessment, according to McSwain.

Separate SEC Complaint

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Rowland in the same court Tuesday, making the same basic claims.

From July 2016 through at least February 2020, Rowland “orchestrated” his scam, the SEC said, adding: “Several investors were inexperienced and financially unsophisticated and liquidated retirement accounts or obtained home equity loans to acquire the money to invest with Rowland’s company.”