2 accused in $12M scheme targeting Puerto Rico, US investors

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Two men who founded what authorities say was a fake financial services company in Florida that raised more than $12 million from at least 150 investors in Puerto Rico and beyond have been arrested, officials said Wednesday.

Gary Steven Wykle, 72, and Alejandro Cortés López, 58, face charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of a 14-count federal indictment following an FBI investigation.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow said the suspects falsely told clients their investments in promissory notes would provide loans for companies including hotels and resorts in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. Muldrow and the Securities and Exchange Commission said more than $1.2 million of that money was used to finance Wykle’s personal expenses, including shopping, travel, rent, food and entertainment. Meanwhile, authorities said Cortés was paid a total of $1.28 million in undisclosed commissions for bringing investors to the company, called The Republic Group, Inc.

Authorities said the alleged Ponzi scheme operated from 2010 to 2017, and that some people invested their life savings in the company.

It was not immediately known if the men had attorneys.