On Monday, Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) announced the Oct. 22 arrest of David Bruce Cohen of Boca Raton on charges of grand theft, organized fraud and money laundering for his alleged involvement in an investment fraud scheme that resulted in approximately $1.5 million in victim losses.
CFO Jimmy Patronis weighed in on the arrest.
“Fraud in Florida has reached epidemic proportions and we must do all we can to protect our consumers from financial scams. I applaud the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) for their continued dedication to seek out those who are looking to take advantage of others through financial schemes. Working together, we can hold these criminals accountable and help educate the citizens and businesses of Florida on how to protect themselves from falling victim to fraud,” Patronis said.
“I thank our OFR investigators and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for their diligent work on this case. This alleged fraud scheme is a classic example of a financial criminal taking advantage of his victim and stealing her money to fund a luxurious lifestyle. We will continue to fight for the victims of financial crime and raise public awareness of the red flags of fraud,” said OFR Commissioner Russell Weigel.
Cohen allegedly approached his victim in November 2016 and persuaded her to invest $1.2 million in Mass Alternative Care, Inc., a cannabis dispensary business operating in Massachusetts. The woman claimed that Cohen promised an 8 percent annual return on the investment with interest accruing over two years and quarterly payments beginning in 2018. The victim claims that no interest payments were received. The victim has also alleged that in 2017, Cohen requested an additional $250,000 to invest in a townhouse project in West Palm Beach, which promised a 12 percent annual return. This second investment took the form of a promissory note, which was supposed to mature on July 1, 2019. However, the victim further claims that no return materialized from this second investment.
The OFR investigation was developed jointly with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. The joint investigation revealed that contrary to Cohen’s representations, the victim’s funds were never invested in a Massachusetts cannabis company or a West Palm Beach townhouse project. Instead, Cohen used the victim’s funds for his extravagant lifestyle and other items such as an antique vehicle, credit card payments, auto and personal loan payments, country club membership fees, legal fees and to speculate in the securities option markets. Investigative analysis of financial records also showed that Cohen used $144,000 to make restitution payments to victims of another investment fraud scheme for which he was convicted of grand theft in 2017.
The case is being prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Palm Beach County.