Fla. Arrests Trio in $1.1 Million Foreign Currency Scam

May 13, 2004

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist announced the arrests of three Florida residents for their reported role in a foreign currency scam that allegedly defrauded dozens of individuals out of more than $1.1 million.

Elaine Kananas, 49, of Oakland Park; James Augello, 50, of Coconut Creek, and Thomas Destasio, 48, of Wilton Manors are each being held in a Broward County Sheriff’s Office jail on more than $1 million dollars bond. They and seven others are charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and multiple counts of investment fraud, grand theft, unlicensed telemarketing and fraudulent transactions.

The three principals of the scheme – Tony Russo, 43, of Pompano Beach; Daniel Fasciano, 35, of Pompano Beach; and James Sexton, 55, of Tallahassee – are among seven individuals still at large.

The three principles owned and operated a group of related companies, including Offshore Financial Consultants of Florida, that sreportedly old fake foreign currency options to investors in Florida and throughout the nation.

Victims received unsolicited telephone calls from company representatives urging them to invest in foreign currency options. The representatives assured victims that there was little risk involved and asked them to wire money or send checks for foreign currency options with 30-day expiration dates. When the options expired, however, victims were told that they had lost their “investments.” In reality, there were no “investments.”

Investigators with the Attorney General’s Office, the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) discovered an on-going scheme to defraud investors and uncovered bank records indicating that the companies had never purchased foreign currency options.

Thus far, 65 victims have submitted affidavits claiming more than $1.1 million in losses to the companies.

Bond has been set at approximately $1 million for each of the 10 defendants. If convicted of these crimes, the defendants face prison sentences of up to 75 years for individual salesmen and more than 300 years for each principal of the company.

Crist expressed gratitude to the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the CFTC for assistance in this case. The CFTC filed an earlier civil action based on the same underlying facts in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and BSO investigators were integral in gathering evidence to criminally charge the named suspects.

Listed below are the names of the companies reportedly involved in the scam, the individuals arrested, and those who are still at large.

Companies: Offshore Financial Consultants of Florida Inc.; Offshore Financial Consultants of Georgia Inc., and International Currency Merchants Inc., Georgia corporations; Global Financial Consultants Inc. a Louisiana corporation; and Coin Bank, a Montenegro/Yugoslavia offshore company established as part of the enterprise.

* James Augello, 50, of Coconut Creek
* Thomas Destasio, 48, of Wilton Manors
* Elaine Kazanas, a/k/a Lauren Roswell, a/k/a Ann McCall, a/k/a Joan Bennett, 49, of Oakland Park

At large:
* Tony Russo, a/k/a Teddy Connal, 43, of Pompano Beach
* Daniel Fasciana, 35, of Pompano Beach
* James Sexton, 55, of Tallahassee
* Paul Stanley, 29, of Boca Raton
* Stephen Delong, 36, of North Lauderdale
* Ronald Catone, 49, of Davie
* Anthony Garcia, a/k/a Michael Jacobs, a/k/a Peter Daniels, a/k/a Marshall Sheldon, 41, of Fort Lauderdale

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