A “Virtual Concierge” Ponzi Scheme With A “Shark Tank” Link
Florida authorities arrested four people and charged them with orchestrating a $70 million Ponzi scheme that promised hefty returns to investors who thought their returns were coming from an investment in a “virtual concierge” machine. Joseph Signore, his wife Laura Signore, Paul Schumack and Craig Allen Hipp were recently arrested on multiple fraud charges stemming from their roles in JCS Enterprises. Coincidentally, a related company funded with investor funds was, until recently, the beneficiary of an investment by Barbara Corcoran — a star of CNBC’s hit show Shark Tank.
Investors were told that an investment in JCS Enterprises involved the purchase of a virtual concierge machine (“VCM”) that resembled an automatic teller machine and allowed users to view advertisements for products or services. Investors were told that their VCM would be placed in a business where it could generate lucrative profits that allowed the payout of annual returns of 80% to 120%.
One of the ways investors were solicited to invest with JCS Enterprises was through the placement of videos on YouTube. The video promised that the VCMs would “generate income for years,” and promised that a $3,500 investment could produce “huge returns.” The alleged mastermind, Joseph Signore, is also accused of soliciting investors via emails that included a Bible passage intended to create a false sense of security and appeal to the religious beliefs of investors.
In addition to criminal charges, Joseph Signore and Paul Schumack also are facing civil fraud charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.