A Chatsworth man has been sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of running a Ponzi scheme that cost 82 victims about $7 million.
Luis Alonso Serna, 61, operated a foreign currency investment company called Architects of the Future Investments. He was sentenced Monday by United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell to pay $4.6 million in restitution on top of a 121-month prison sentence.
Serna, a pastor at Zion Living Word Christian Center in San Fernando, solicited loans from individuals by telling them that the money would be invested in foreign currency and that their investments would generate annual returns as high as 20 percent, according to court documents.
Serna admitted in his plea agreement that he invested only a small portion of the loan proceeds in foreign currency or anything else that could possibly sustain the returns he promised his victims.
“This case involves an egregious fraud that targeted the non-wealthy victims who believed in the defendant because he was a pastor,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. “The effects of this crime on the victims are truly devastating in every way.”
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.