Robert Humphrey Jr. of Tampa has been found guilty of a fraudulent investment scheme that scammed nine people, most of whom were elderly, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, netting him a sentence of 10 years of probation.
According to a news release from Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, Humphrey, while working as a karaoke DJ at various bars in the Tampa Bay area, solicited investments in a fictitious crab fishing business called High Cotton Bahamas, promising 10% returns and that investors’ money would be secured by real estate in the Bahamas. OFR’s investigation found Humphrey issued more than $800,000 of High Cotton Bahamas securities to his victims but neither he nor High Cotton Bahamas owned the Bahamian property.
Humphrey, the release states, then used investors’ funds for Ponzi-style payments to his victims, undocumented cash withdrawals, dining, travel unrelated to High Cotton Bahamas' business and a new Ford F-250 Super Duty truck valued at more than $60,000 for his wife.
“Investment fraud is a despicable crime and especially heinous when committed against our seniors who have worked their entire life to save,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis states in the release. “I applaud the hard work of OFR’s investigative team in bringing this bad actor to justice. Also, thank you to the State Attorney’s Office, 13th Judicial Circuit for prosecuting this case and working with OFR to protect Floridians from fraud.”
Prior to sentencing, Humphrey was required to pay $412,500 in restitution to the nine victims who cooperated with OFR’s investigation. According to the terms of his probation, he is banned from engaging in securities transactions without licensure, raising money for new or existing business ventures, obtaining lines of credit, contacting victims of his scheme and traveling internationally.
“The investigators from the Office of Financial Regulation worked tirelessly on this case to ensure the defendant was held accountable for his crimes,” Florida State Attorney Susan Lopez states in the release. “We are proud to partner with OFR to protect crime victims and stop financial scammers.”