DETROIT – Dearborn resident Ali Rameh Bazzi was sentenced to 33 months in prison on Wednesday on charges of wire fraud and money laundering arising out of an approximately $500,000 investment fraud scheme.
In addition to the 33 months of imprisonment, Bazzi was ordered to pay $441,231 in restitution to his victims.
Bazzi was prosecuted in the Eastern District Court of Michigan.
Bazzi, 27, pleaded guilty in August 2021 to one count of wire fraud arising from a scheme to defraud approximately 30 individuals by using their investments to fund his personal lifestyle and expenses. Bazzi also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, the result of financial transactions he engaged in with the fraudulently obtained funds.
Prosecutors said Bazzi told his victims that he was investing their money in foreign exchange and commodity markets.
“This defendant lived lavishly on funds that he stole from those who entrusted him with their investments,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison. “His lies and deceit were costly to his victims and to the community as a whole. Today’s sentence was wholly warranted and I hope it will deter anyone seeking to enrich themselves by defrauding innocent investors.”
Bazzi spent investor funds on a sports car, other luxury vehicles and expensive jewelry.
According to the plea agreement, Bazzi owned and operated a purported investment company in Dearborn known as Welther Oaks, LLC.
Using the business name Welther Oaks, Bazzi solicited funds from individuals in various parts of the United States, including Michigan, Illinois and California, purportedly for investments.
Between March of 2018 and March of 2020, Bazzi, operating through the company obtained approximately $540,000 from nearly thirty investors. Bazzi told these investors that he would be investing their funds in commodities and foreign exchange markets and would generate substantial profits for his clients.
To corroborate those claims, he provided his investors with individualized account statements at regular intervals, which attempted to show trading activity and the growth in the value of their investments, which turned out to be fake.
Bazzi diverted most of the investors’ funds to his own personal uses and expenses. According to the plea documents, Bazzi spent investor funds on a sports car, other luxury vehicles and expensive jewelry.
The plea agreement also states that Bazzi engaged in financial transactions with the fraudulently obtained funds, including wiring some $28,429 to a business in Nevada for the lease of an exotic sports car.
Of the approximately $540,000 that Bazzi obtained over the course of the scheme, Bazzi returned approximately $99,000 to investors. The reminder of the funds – some $441,231 – Bazzi illegally converted to his own use, court documents show.