24 January – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander A…

24 January – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Don Saxon, Commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, announced that defendant, Lazaro J. Rodriguez, was arrested on mail fraud charges and made his initial appearance this afternoon in federal court before Magistrate Judge Patrick White in Miami. Judge White ordered Rodriguez held without bond, finding him to be a flight risk.

According to the Complaint, filed late Friday in federal court, Rodriguez was the president of THE FIRM “FINANCIAL,” also known as THE F-I-R-M, THE FIRM INVESTMENTS (collectively referred to as “TFF”). Until January 13, 2006, TFF operated a website at www.thefirminvestments.com and was headquartered at 5201 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 872, Miami, Florida.

The Complaint alleges that Rodriguez misappropriated for his own use approximately $1.5 million of investor money from more than 400 investors. Using Spanish language newspaper and Creole radio advertisements to lure investors, TFF’s website and written materials offered a number of investment options. One investment, called an “Intermediate Level of Investment”supposedly guaranteed someone investing $500 a return of $1,500 (300%) in 90 days, while a $1,000 investment supposedly guaranteed a return of $3,000. An “Executive Level of Investment” of $10,000 supposedly would yield a return of $20,000 in nine (9) months and a $50,000 investment would yield $100,000. A “Liquid Level of Investment,” starting at $100,000, would yield a $300,000 return in seventeen (17) months, and a $900,000 investment would supposedly yield a $1.2 million return.

According to the Complaint, TFF claimed to specialize in commercial and residential real estate, commodities and Initial Public Offerings. TFF never specified how these investments would occur or how such a large rate of return could be guaranteed. Moreover, Rodriguez does not have a license that would enable him to trade in securities or commodities. In the last six months alone, Rodriguez used investor funds to acquire a Mercedes-Benz, a 2005 Hummer, two 2006 Corvettes, a Mazda RX-8 and a jet ski.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Wilfredo Fernandez. The U.S.

Attorney’s Office urges anyone who has invested in TFF to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (305) 944-9101.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .

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