By Chris Lang
James Moore has been sentenced to 140 months in prison for his role in the Bar Works investment scam. On 1 February 2022, Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced Moore’s sentence. The Bar Works scam defrauded more than 800 investors of more than US$57 million.
On 7 June 2019, Moore was found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after a one-week trial before US District Judge Richard M. Berman.
On 27 July 2020, Savraj Gata-Aura was sentenced to four years in prison for his part in the Bar Works scam.
On 23 May 2019, Renwick Haddow pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy relating to Bar Works, and one count each of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy relating to a separate investment scheme involving Bitcoins. Haddow’s sentencing is scheduled for 8 April 2022.
“Massive Ponzi scheme”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:
“James Moore partnered with notorious fraudster Renwick Haddow to design a massive Ponzi scheme that lured hundreds of unsuspecting investors from around the world, and from which Moore and affiliated companies siphoned 65 percent of each of their recruited victims’ investments. Moore then obstructed justice and lied about the scheme to federal agents. Today’s lengthy sentence sends a clear message that perpetrators of investment fraud will be prosecuted and held accountable.”
The federal prosecutors write that,
Moore was not innocently drawn into a legitimate business venture that happened to turn criminal through other people’s actions. He knew who he was dealing with. He made the decision to team up with a notorious Ponzi scheme operator being sued by a British regulator for leaving hundreds of victims with losses of over £16.9 million in his wake. He knew that Haddow kept opening new companies in whatever fields seemed likely to attract investor attention – going from offering investments in rice harvests and carbon credits in Africa, to running a boiler room selling Bitcoin investments, and now to offering investments in coworking spaces.
A press release from the U.S. Department of Justice states that, “In addition to the prison term, MOORE, 60, was sentenced to 3 years of supervised release. MOORE was also ordered to pay restitution of $57,579,790.00, forfeiture of $1,599,257.46, and a fine of $50,000.”
In an article in the United Arab Emirates news website The National journalist Nick Webster writes that,
The United States Attorney’s Office in New York said it was working on recovering funds from Bar Works across a number of foreign jurisdictions.
Although a court order for restitution of the millions lost by victims is in place, the recovery of funds is not guaranteed.
Restitution payments are dependent on income and assets of the accused, with most victims of financial crimes only receiving partial restitution.
“Monsters who have no conscience”
In their sentencing memorandum, the prosecutors wrote that,
While many of the victims cannot fly to New York and personally address the Court at sentencing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, they have submitted over 90 letters and statements describing the devastating impact of this fraud and urging the Court to hold the perpetrators accountable. A review of the victim impact statements is a haunting tour of the varying kinds of human wreckage that can only exist in the wake of a fraud of international scope and dimension.
Several victims were retired. Some have been forced to go back to work. One retired victim wrote that,
If I live to be 100, as my mother, grandmother, grandfather have, I will likely do so in significant poverty because of these monsters who have no conscience. My wife the same. There are no words to help any judge or jury feel the pain and the darkness of deep depression that such a loss causes. However, we hope that our words might somehow help our pain and frustration to be at least understood and that the devastation of the future we now face because of this loss is considered as a final sentence is levied against those found guilty or who have admitted to such guile and corruption.
An IT professional wrote that she and her husband were saving for their retirement and their son’s university tuition. She wrote,
Knowing that we have lost the hard earned dollars on the BarWorks investment made us feel so hopeless and depressive that it has been very hard to recover. It has been almost impossible to cope with the fact that all the effort made in the past was worthless and that it will take at least 20 years to recover financially.
One victim borrowed money from his retired parents and brother but only received one or two small payments from Bar Works. “I contacted Bar Works and their UK agents’ company many times but every time they give different excuse,” he wrote.
I lived in hell for months before I could break the news to my parents and my brother who lent me the money. This news was devastating to my parents as this money was their retirement money and for my brother, this was a big portion of his life time savings. This was the worst experience of my life; not only I lost my money and my family money. It also stressed the relationship with my parents and brother.
Another victim wrote that “on many occasions even thought of suicide came to my mind.” He wrote that,
This financial scam affected me mentally so much that my performance at workplace started falling terribly. At one point of time I was best performing employee since I joined the company in 2013, but from mid-2017 my performance at workplace started deteriorating . . . [and] in July 2019 I was made redundant by my company. For last 6 months I am without work and very frankly this scam has shattered my confidence so much that I am afraid of even meeting any recruitment consultant.
One victim of the Bar Works scam lost US$500,000. “The impact was devastating for my own company and, above all, my family. That money was my savings after many years of hard work.” His daughter was born five weeks early, “due to the stress my wife was experiencing after what happened with Bar Works”. He and his wife were saving money for their first house. “I’m still trying to recuperate the huge loss and also recover from the stress and immense pain caused by this scam,” he wrote.