According to federal prosecutors, a Florida lending company that issued high-interest loans to small businesses fraudulently raised over $250 million from more than 3,400 investors across 42 states before declaring bankruptcy in 2018. The former president of the company, 82-year-old Carl R. Ruderman, pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to commit securities fraud for his role in deceiving investors.
- How the former president of 1 Global Capital admitted to deceiving investors while looting company funds
- Ruderman’s history of shady business dealings
- How the fraud added to Florida’s checkered record on financial crimes
- A data table highlighting key details about the scope of the fraud
1 Global Capital LLC, based in Hallandale Beach, Florida, offered short-term, unsecured cash advances to merchants at sky-high interest rates, a financing vehicle sometimes compared to predatory payday loans.
From February 2014 to July 2018, Ruderman and others at 1 Global Capital lied to investors about the profitability and oversight of the business to raise money, the Justice Department said. Prosecutors say the fraudulent scheme raised over $250 million from more than 3,400 investors across 42 states (see table below).
|Year||Amount Raised||Investors Defrauded||States Affected|
|Feb. 2014 – July 2018||Over $250 million||More than 3,400||42|
Executive Admits Lying to Investors While Looting Company Coffers
On Thursday, Ruderman admitted in Miami federal court that he and his accomplices made false claims about 1 Global Capital’s financial audits, its use of investor money, and expected investment returns. Investors were falsely told a public accounting firm was auditing the company and that they could expect double-digit returns.
In reality, Ruderman treated 1 Global Capital as his personal piggy bank, siphoning off investor funds to pay for credit card bills, vacations, nannies, housekeepers, school tuition, mortgage payments, luxury cars, and insurance for his art and jewelry collection, prosecutors said. He also diverted money to other businesses from which he and his family would benefit without investors’ knowledge.
Two of Ruderman’s lawyers also pleaded guilty to providing fraudulent legal cover that allowed 1 Global Capital to avoid federal securities laws and continue raising money illegally. At Ruderman’s direction, executive Jan Douglas Atlas, 78, wrote opinion letters containing false information for regulators and investors about the nature of the investment.
Ruderman and his cohorts then relied on misleading letters to keep soliciting funds, lying to financial advisors and retail investors alike about the soundness of putting money into 1 Global Capital. Many investors poured retirement savings into the company.
History of Shady Business Dealings
Ruderman has agreed to serve the maximum 5-year prison sentence and forfeit over $250 million for his central role in the 1 Global Capital fraud. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced in January.
The criminal case caps a long history of questionable business dealings by Ruderman. His family once owned Playgirl magazine, which he ran as president and CEO during the 1970s and 1980s.
Ruderman has been accused of mob ties and sued multiple times for fraud, including by Playgirl models who said he failed to pay them. The Federal Trade Commission won a $4 million civil judgment against him in 1989 for deceiving Playgirl subscribers.
Ruderman’s son Scott had also been listed as a principal of 1 Global Capital before his father’s lending scheme unraveled. Four other Ruderman confederates have pleaded guilty so far for assisting with the 1 Global Capital scam.
Massive Investment Fraud Adds to Florida’s Checkered Financial History
The implosion of 1 Global Capital represents one of the largest Ponzi scheme-style frauds in Florida history. The brazen swindle of thousands of retirement savers has added more black marks to the state’s checkered record on financial crimes.
Over the decades, Florida has become a hotbed for investment fraud and shady operators seeking to separate victims from their savings. The state’s demographics of retirees and immigrant communities make prime targets for scams promising unrealistically high returns with low risk.
Florida is also known as a place where white-collar criminals can continue operating even after running into regulatory trouble or getting sued by prior investors. Light oversight and lax incorporation rules have historically allowed dodgy companies to attract unsuspecting investors and steal money before eventually cratering.
Some of the most notorious scams have originated in South Florida, where 1 Global Capital was headquartered – the “capital of capital fraud,” as one former federal prosecutor described it. The region has recently seen major Ponzi schemes, such as the $1.2 billion fraud by fake money manager Scott Rothstein that unraveled in 2009.
Meanwhile, Ruderman has kept opening questionable businesses in Florida even after his lending company went bankrupt. Last year, he launched a Miami-based venture called Caroline Records that claimed to be “one of the music industry’s leading indie record companies.” Its website is now offline.
By pleading guilty to securities fraud, Ruderman has finally admitted his culpability in deceiving those who trusted him with their savings. His case reinforces warnings that Florida remains fertile ground for empty promises and financial schemes that can end with shattering losses for everyday investors.