KANSAS CITY – A Kansas City man was sentenced in federal court for a nearly $500,000 investment fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Ryan Scott Luscombe, 45, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Luscombe to pay $483,482 in restitution to his victims.
Luscombe was found guilty at trial on Feb. 12, 2018, of three counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.
Luscombe solicited investments for his business, Five Star Trading Group, Inc., claiming to investors that he would utilize his expertise in stock trading to produce exorbitant returns. Instead, evidence introduced during the trial indicated that nearly all the investor funds, which totaled $483,482, was used by Luscombe on personal expenditures in 2013, 2014 and 2015, including the purchase of a 2010 BMW 750I and a trip to Bermuda.
Several victim investors used money from their retirement accounts to invest with Luscombe. None of Luscombe’s investors have received funds from returns or the return of their original investment.
During the course of the scheme to defraud victims of their investment money, Luscombe represented himself as a wealthy individual and a successful day trader capable of producing tremendous returns on investments. Luscombe lied to investors about his past success in order to obtain their money for his own personal use and financial gain.
Luscombe told investors he was creating a new business to manage over $50 million from three investors in Arizona. Luscombe claimed he would be the primary investment trader, but because the dollar amount to be invested would be too large for one person to handle, he was recruiting additional individuals to assist in his trading endeavor. In exchange for a fee or investment in the business, Luscombe offered to train the additional individuals in his trading strategy. Eventually, Luscombe told investors he would allow a small number of friends and family to take advantage or “piggyback” off the investment strategy of the larger investors.
Luscombe’s stated investment strategy was to trade securities in the stock market based on the identification of trends in the upward or downward direction of the stock price. Luscombe told investors the risk was very low and minimal because he constantly monitored the stock price. Luscombe told investors he had been in the trading business for many years and had previously made millions of dollars.
Luscombe regularly provided positive projected investment return updates to the victims regarding their investments, and claimed investor money would be utilized for trading and generating profits for investors. As a direct result of these conversations, investors entrusted their money to him.
Investors never authorized Luscombe to spend investment money on personal expenditures. Luscombe never told investors their investment money would be spent on his personal expenditures. A salary for Luscombe was not authorized by investors. At the time of investment, Luscombe never informed investors that investment funds would be utilized to pay his salary. An analysis of financial activity revealed Luscombe’s spending of investor funds included the following:
(a) $83,088 in cash and cash equivalents;
(b) $78,542 in retail expenses;
(c) $67,990 in restaurants and entertainment;
(d) $52,925 in vehicle expenses;
(e) $45,940 in travel expenses;
(f) $41,058 in rent and utilities;
(g) $39,673 in investment firm losses, fees, and interest1; and
(h) $21,144 in nutrition, fitness and beauty expenses.
Luscombe was not registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as a broker dealer or as an investment advisor representative. Luscombe and Five Star Trading Group were not registered with the Missouri Secretary of State – Securities Division.
In 2016, Luscombe notified the victims that all of their investor funds had been lost in trading and that Five Star was forced to close down.