Updated: 8:13 p.m. Editor's Note: It was originally reported that Dunaske was arrested for his involvement in the following activity. In fact, he was not arrested; he has been civilly charged by the SEC. Patch regrets the error.
A Ronkonkoma resident is among 14 sales agents charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly misleading investors and illegally selling securities for a Long Island-based investment firm at the center of a $415 million Ponzi scheme.
According to a release issued by the SEC:
The SEC alleges that the sales agents — which include four sets of siblings — falsely promised investor returns as high as 12 to 14 percent in several weeks when they sold investments offered by Agape World Inc. They also misled investors to believe that only 1 percent of their principal was at risk. The Agape securities they peddled were actually non-existent, and investors were merely lured into a Ponzi scheme where earlier investors were paid with new investor funds. The sales agents turned a blind eye to red flags of fraud and sold the investments without hesitation, receiving more than $52 million in commissions and payments out of investor funds. None of these sales agents were registered with the SEC to sell securities, nor were they associated with a registered broker or dealer. Agape also was not registered with the SEC.
According to the SEC’s complaint, more than 5,000 investors nationwide were impacted by the scheme that lasted from 2005 to January 2009, when Agape’s president and organizer of the scheme Nicholas J. Cosmo was arrested. He was later sentenced to 300 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $179 million in restitution.
Among those charged this week was Ryan K. Dunaske, who worked as a sub-broker for Jason Keryc, of Wantagh, also charged. Dunaske offered and sold Agape securities to at least 70 investors and received more than $700,000 in commissions and payments, according to the release.