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Orlando Ponzi Scheme Targeted Italian Investors

Federal authorities seized property in Orlando, Windermere, and Aventura, Florida after allegations of a Ponzi scheme that defrauded Italian investors surfaced. Attorneys for the victims in the civil suits claim that the scheme bilked up to one hundred people, most of whom were Italian, and up to $40 million.

Federal documents named Leone Alfano Lacava, Victoriya Johnson, and Rasul Atakov, among others, who allegedly operated under business names such as Orlando Trust Properties and Golden Investments Inc.

The FBI's affidavit stated that Alfano of Osceola County allegedly used his family's connections in Italy to sell faux investments in Orlando real estate. He went to Italy in order to meet with investors there, showing brochures and pictures of Orlando homes he purportedly owned or would acquire soon. He represented that they could easily get a loan to acquire the properties and that they would profit from leasing the houses. After the investors were committed, Alfano sent them a month or two of supposed rental payments and suddenly quit. Most of the properties were never actually owned by Alfano. A number that he did own were sold to others. Alfano and his co-operators used their victims' money to fund family businesses and buy real estate, vehicles, and a boat, completely unrelated to the stated purpose of the fund.

Alfano may have previously run similar schemes in Venezuela.