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Two charged in fraud aimed at Southern California's Spanish-speaking community

May 24, 2010 |  1:17 pm

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has filed civil charges against two Southern California men for allegedly running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that targeted the Spanish-speaking community, the commission announced Monday.

Acting at the request of the commodities agency, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson last week froze the assets of Ruben Gonzalez of West Covina and Jose C. Naranjo of La Mirada and their company, New Golden Investment Group LLC.

In its lawsuit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles, the commission accused Gonzalez and Naranjo of defrauding 165 investors of about $3.65 million since August 2008 by falsely claiming they would invest in oil, gold, silver and other commodities — potentially doubling investors’ money.

Instead of making investments as promised, Gonzalez and Naranjo used new investor money to pay purported profits to earlier investors, the complaint said. The complaint also accused the defendants of spending investor money on travel, a Mercedes-Benz and payments on a house.

Gonzalez also was indicted criminally on mail-fraud and wire-fraud charges, the commission said.

-- Stuart Pfeifer