A Mount Sinai man has been charged with defrauding investors in a more than $500,000 Ponzi scheme, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said Friday.
Craig Clavin, 61, and his company, Lighthouse Futures Ltd., solicited investments into a fund known as Lighthouse Futures Commodity Pool that would participate in the commodities market, prosecutors said. Clavin reportedly promised investors a guaranteed return of their investment in full by the end of each year with an option to roll the funds over into the next year, officials said.
Between 2012 and 2017, Clavin received more than $500,000 from investors but misappropriated most of those funds for his personal and unrelated business use, including payments on his credit cards, student loans, insurance and everyday expenses, investigators said.
Clavin concealed his theft by fabricating documents and telling investors that they were earning dividends and profits on their investments. Between 2013 and 2016, Clavin used money from investors to pay back the funds to others investors, misrepresenting that the funds were “returns” on their investments, Sini said.
"This was a scam built on greed and deceit,” Sini said. “The defendant bilked his own friends and associates out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, promising to turn their hard-earned savings into solid investments. Instead he used some of their money to further the scheme, and used the rest to line his own pockets."
While Clavin did occasionally trade through his own personal investment account and transferred a small portion of the investor funds into that account, he was not a registered commodity pool operator, prosecutors said.
Anthony La Pinta of Hauppauge, Clavin's defense attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.
Clavin is charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny; one count of second-degree money laundering; 13 counts of third-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud.
He was arraigned Thursday and released on his own recognizance. If convicted of the top count, Clavin faces a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission also filed suit against Clavin and Lighthouse on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn.
Sini suggested there may be additional unreported victims of the scheme and urged them to call his office’s Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau at 631-853-4232.
Clavin is due back in court on June 29.