SALT LAKE CITY – Thomas Robbins, 65, of Heber City pleaded guilty to securities fraud and money laundering in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City Wednesday afternoon, admitting he induced victims to invest in a fraudulent foreign currency day-trading business.
According to the plea agreement, as a part of his efforts to lull investors into a false sense of security about their investments, Robbins told them he had achieved high returns in his foreign day-trading business. In fact, Robbins lost millions of dollars and diverted investor money for his personal use and benefit. He solicited approximately 66 investors to invest around $10,354,700.69 in his scheme.
“This case presents a classic example of a Utah securities fraudster. Lie upon lie, he created an investment opportunity that drew in dozens of investors who ended up losing more than $10 million to Mr. Robbins – who is a swindler rather than a foreign currency day trader. For all intents and purposes, the money is gone and cannot be recovered for victims,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.
“We have no shortage of fraudsters in Utah waiting to take our money. While my partners and I can deliver justice to the offenders, as we are doing in this case, the key is to avoid victimization in the first place. I encourage everyone to apply healthy skepticism and due diligence before investing their nest eggs,” Huber said.
“Thomas Robbins did not learn his lesson from his past offenses,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel of the Salt Lake City FBI. “Unfortunately, that’s often the reality in cases like these. Fraudsters are master manipulators and have high rates of recidivism. The FBI and our partners will continue to go after those who steal people’s hard-earned money. Public education and awareness is key. When looking to invest, we urge the public to do their due diligence before investing. Please do things like checking federal court records and the state’s White Collar Crime Offender Registry online at utfraud.com.”
“You have heard it before – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and that is exactly what Thomas Robbins promised, something too good to be true. Mr. Robbins defrauded investors with false promises and tales of trading algorithms, all to obtain their cash and property,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent Tara Sullivan. “This wasn’t the first time Mr. Robbins has done this. You should always check on anybody who is asking for your money for an investment and make sure you have an independent third party like an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor look over the opportunity.”
Robbins admitted that he made fraudulent representations in his communication with investors in the scheme. The false representations include telling them he had spent 11 years developing an algorithm for foreign currency trading which allowed him to average returns of 5 percent to 30 percent per month; representing to them that he worked for a bank in Germany around 2005 where he was on contract to help the bank develop algorithms for their traders to use; that he used more than 13 different brokerage firms in different countries to facilitate his foreign currency trading program; assuring them that his trading program was compliant with the laws of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission; and promising that people who invested with him would never lose more than 5 percent of the net equity in their trading account due to “stop loss” measures.
He made the false representations knowing he was not providing a legitimate investment; that he had lost nearly all of the investor money; and he was using a portion of the investor money on personal living expenses; and no significant investment returns were generated.
Robbins was charged with securities fraud and money laundering in a Felony Information filed earlier this month. Sentencing in the case is set for Nov. 30, 2020, at 2 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Dee Benson. The potential maximum sentence for securities fraud is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Money laundering carries a potential 10-year sentence and a fine of $250,000.
This is Robbins’ second federal conviction for a fraud scheme. He was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison in June 2011 and ordered to pay $2,462,207 in restitution to victim investors after pleading guilty to conspiracy in another investment fraud scheme.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office are prosecuting the case. Special agents of the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation are conducting the investigation.