Authorities: Social media influencer Cesar Pina charged in multimillion-dollar Ponzi-like scheme
One month after a Kane In Your Corner investigation exposed an allegedly fraudulent real estate investment scheme, the social media influencer from Franklin Lakes who ran it has been arrested.
Cesar Pina, 45, was charged with one count of wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced. Authorities say Pina, who advertised real estate investments offering huge guaranteed profits, was actually running a Ponzi-like scheme, in which he took money from new investors to pay off older ones, as well as pocketing some of the cash. They say he's been running the scheme since 2017.
In a written statement, Seillinger said, “Pina exploited celebrity status and social media to develop a devoted following of potential victims, promising returns that were too good to be true, Pina allegedly defrauded dozens of people of millions of dollars.”
A September Kane In Your Corner investigation found over a dozen lawsuits had been filed against Pina and his companies, totaling more than $10 million. The lawsuits were filed by investors who said they lost most or all of their money.
KANE IN YOUR CORNER: Tristate real estate investors become victims of Ponzi scheme
Stanley Acosta, one of those investors, says he invested $150,000 and has yet to receive anything in return.
“From a financial standpoint, it's killed me completely,” Acosta said. “I've had to take out loans to pay off credit card debts.”
Some of the lawsuits also mention RaaShaun Casey, a radio personality who goes by the name DJ Envy. Casey attended real estate investment seminars with Pina, and some investors told Kane In Your Corner that his presence made the scheme seem more legitimate to them. Casey has not been charged, however, and his attorney contends he is also a victim.
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.