Texas Cattle Feeders Charged By CFTC In $161 Million Ponzi Scheme

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Source: Commodity Futures Trading Commission news release

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced it filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against Agridime LLC, a Texas corporation, and its co-founders, Joshua Link of Gilbert, Arizona and Jed Wood of Ft. Worth, Texas.

The complaint alleges the defendants engaged in a scheme to defraud thousands of customers in at least 14 states by soliciting, accepting, and using customers’ funds to pay undisclosed commissions and used later customers’ funds to pay profits to earlier customers, in the manner of a Ponzi scheme, rather than for the purposes Agridime represented those funds would be used.

Agridime claimed the funds would be used in connection with contracts of sale of a commodity in interstate commerce (i.e., the customer’s purchase of cattle). As alleged in the CFTC’s complaint, upon information and belief, from approximately 2021 until December 2023, the defendants received more than $161 million from over 2,000 customers.

In its continuing litigation against the defendants, the CFTC seeks restitution to defrauded customers, civil monetary penalties, trading bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations.

Case Background

As alleged in the complaint, Agridime operated an online platform that purportedly allowed customers to buy and sell cattle and pitched victims with the prospect of guaranteed annual rates of return between at least 15% and 20%. As advertised, Agridime’s cattle purchase program afforded customers the opportunity to buy and sell cattle without the actual day-to-day care of the cattle, or as Agridime stated in solicitation materials, purchasers of livestock would “make money raising cattle without having to do all the work.”

As further alleged in the Agridime cattle program, customers supposedly bought cattle, typically for $2,000 a head, and Agridime was to handle the feeding and care of the cattle, via farmers with whom Agridime partnered, until the cattle were ready to be processed and the beef sold.

As alleged in the complaint, Agridime represented the customers’ funds would be used only for the purchase, raising, and feeding of the purchased cattle. Instead, because Agridime did not buy the number of cattle required to fulfill its obligations under the livestock contracts, Agridime had to use recent customers’ funds to pay the guaranteed profits of earlier customers. In addition, as further alleged, upon information and belief, customers’ funds were also used to pay approximately $11 million in undisclosed commissions to Agridime personnel, including to Link, his wife, and Wood.

The Division of Enforcement (DOE) thanks the Arizona Corporation Commission, Securities Division, and the Securities and Exchange Commission for their assistance in this matter.

The DOE staff responsible for this case are Janine Gargiulo, Nicole Buseman, Judith M. Slowly, Trevor Kokal, David W. MacGregor, Lenel Hickson, Jr., and Manal M. Sultan.

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