Updated 

SEC calls Las Vegas company a Ponzi scam, freezes $800 million in assets


The Securities and Exchange Commission has frozen the assets of a Las Vegas medical billing company and its owner, claiming they ran an $800 million Ponzi scam mainly against investors in Japan.

The SEC sued Edwin Yoshihiro Fujinaga and MRI International Inc. in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. The complaint was filed under seal on Sept. 11 and unsealed on Thursday.

“The defendants … perpetrated an extensive and egregious Ponzi scheme that victimized thousands of investors, depriving many of their life savings,” the SEC complaint said. “From October 1988 through May 2013, MRI received over $800 million from investors.”

Fujinaga, who lives in Las Vegas, was unavailable Friday.

Fujinaga, 66, claimed he could buy medical account receivables at a discount from medical providers, and recover the full amounts from insurers. But it was a Ponzi scheme in which he used new money to pay off old investors, the SEC said.

Fujinaga used a second company he owns, CRA Service Center LLC, to buy homes in Beverly Hills, Calif., Hawaii, and Las Vegas. He also allegedly used the money to pay his alimony, child support and credit card bills.

More than 8,000 people had invested approximately $813 million as of 2012. Fujinaga promised to give investors profits of 6 percent to 10.3 percent.

The SEC is seeking to recover alleged ill-gotten gains, impose civil fines and obtain other relief.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

 

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