US District Court - Hawaii

BY JIM DOOLEY – An accused con man facing federal fraud charges in Boston was the victim of another set of con artists  operating in Hawaii, according to federal court records.

US District Court - Hawaii

It’s a common phenomenon in investment fraud circles, said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon, who specializes in white collar crime.

“Con men conning con men is a hallmark of the investment fraud world,” said Simon.

Simon signed a sworn declaration filed in federal court here late last month detailing the latest example of the phenomenon.

The papers were filed in a federal fraud case pending here against a group of defendants headed by businessman Syed Qadri.

A Canadian man, Randi Bochinski, claimed in court papers filed in 2007 that he lost more than $1.4 million invested with Qadri.

Simon said in court papers filed May 24 that he recently contacted various victims of the Qadri fraud about the status of the case here but was unable to reach Bochinski.

“I have been informed by official government sources that Randi Bochinski has been indicted on federal fraud charges … and is in custody in Massachusetts awaiting trial,” Simon told the court.

FBI Special Agent Tom Simon

Bochinksi, of British Columbia, was indicted in 2010 on mail and wire fraud charges. He is accused by U.S. prosecutors of operating “a massive, multi-faceted Ponzi scheme directed at United States investors” that took in more than $27 million during a five-year period.

Investors were promised high, short-terms rates of return – 3-4 per cent per month or 40-50 per cent per year, according to prosecutors.

Those are classic signs of a Ponzi scheme, a form of fraud first made famous by Boston crook Charles Ponzi in the early 1900’s.

Early investors in such schemes are paid with money taken from later investors. The schemes collapse when new investor money dries up.

Bochinski was extradited from Canada earlier this year and is being held without bond awaiting trial. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Qadri and his codefendants, including his wife, Patricia Roszkowski, were originally accused of operating a $100 million fraud here through two companies, Amassse Capital and Solomon & Co., from offices in downtown Honolulu.

Qadri, Roszkowski and two other defendants have pleaded guilty in their case and are due to be sentenced later this month by U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi.

Court records filed in the case show that FBI agents were assisted in the Qadri investigation by a convicted con man, Michael Miller of Texas, who worked as “confidential source” for the government after serving time for fraud and other offenses in Texas and South Carolina, court records show.

One Texas judge said that Miller had “a prolific career of chicanery” before he began helping federal fraud investigators.

Other examples here of con men bilking each other have surfaced in court here before.

One was in the criminal prosecution of Patrick Rakotonanahary, now serving a 90-month prison sentence after pleading

Patrick Rakotonanahary

guilty in federal court here in 2010 to multiple fraud charges.

Among Rakotonanahary’s victims was Kaneohe con man Albert J.K. Perkins IV, now serving a five-year sentence for operating a separate fraud that bilked seven families of some $4 million.

Rakotonanahary operated an elaborate Ponzi scheme and Perkins was one of his early investors, transferring some $2 million that he had conned from his own victims to Rakotonanahary’s Cyber Market Group.

Exactly how much money Perkins received back from Rakotonanahary isn’t clear, but very little of it was returned to his own victims, according to court papers.

Finally, there is the case of convicted fraud artist Kapua Keolanui, who stole millions from friends and relatives here, keeping some of the money for herself and transferring the rest to a company controlled by Perry Griggs, who was then imprisoned for fraud convictions.

Griggs and his wife Rachelle ran a Ponzi scheme that bilked some 17 victims out of some $4 million.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com