At Lord Fletcher’s, an upscale steakhouse on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, financial guru Jeremy Lundin would entertain customers with tales of how his investors had doubled their money in just a few months.
But some of those investors are now crying foul, and state and federal investigators are looking into Lundin’s Big Island Capital for evidence of fraud and money laundering after discovering that much of his investors’ money was poured into paying for Lundin’s high-end lifestyle, according to recently filed court records.
“Lundin worked through a network of associates and friends to solicit investors to invest in Big Island Capital by promising exponential growth through options trading,” said IRS agent Matthew Schommer in an affidavit filed to support a search of Lundin’s home in Mound. “Lundin did not use the funds as described to investors.”
On Jan. 27, 2016, for instance, one of his clients gave Lundin $98,000, court records show. Instead of investing the money, however, Lundin immediately used most of it to purchase a $71,118 Maserati sports car, according to the affidavit.
According to court records, Lundin, 30, also used his clients’ money to buy expensive jewelry and to pay personal debts, including a $5,412 orthodontics bill and $3,500 for bail following a 2015 drunken driving charge. Several investors who say they were close to Lundin believe he also used their money to buy a 32-foot boat, take a trip to Paris and cover the cost of a $15,000 baby shower for his wife.
In court records, federal authorities said they are investigating a “fraud scheme” run by Lundin and his wife, Alex Lundin. Their home was searched by investigators two weeks ago. But so far neither of them has been charged with any crimes related to the business. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota declined to comment on the case.
Lundin did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Records show that Lundin is not licensed as an investment adviser by either state or federal regulators.
Alex Lundin said she had no idea there was anything questionable about the investment company.
“I thought, ‘Wow, it must be going awesome,’ ” Alex Lundin said in a telephone interview this week. “Did he have credentials? I don’t know.”
Though Alex Lundin identified herself as the chief financial officer of Big Island Capital in her LinkedIn resume, she denied having anything to do with the company. She said she was working full-time as a psychiatric pediatrician until she became pregnant last year.
“I love my husband and I am going to stand by my husband,” Alex Lundin said.
Some of Lundin’s investors are devastated by their losses and furious about being misled.
“This guy is going to have people committing suicide over this,” said Laura Cramer, who stands to lose nearly $200,000 in the alleged Ponzi scheme.
“I cry every day — three times a day sometimes,” said a real estate company owner who is identified in court records as “Victim One.” She agreed to be interviewed if the newspaper did not identify her by name. “I have to sell the house I have lived in for 23 years ... They are terrible, rotten people.”
Corporate records indicate Jeremy Lundin began operating as an unlicensed investment adviser in 2013, when he was still working as an engineer for Aston Technologies, an information technology company with offices in St. Louis Park.
In a welcome packet he sent to potential clients, Lundin claimed that his company showed returns of 67 percent in 2013 and 97.8 percent in 2014. By comparison, hedge funds — which typically invest significantly in options — produced average returns of less than 5 percent in that time period.
In 2015, Lundin told clients that his goal was to “shoot for between 70 percent-120 percent returns.” Initially, investors had to put up at least $5,000, but the minimum investment climbed to $20,000 in 2016, investors said. Altogether, Lundin recruited at least 100 investors who entrusted him with millions of dollars, investors said. So far, federal authorities have traced at least $1 million to corporate bank accounts controlled by Lundin.
On paper, at least, his clients did well. Cramer’s last quarterly statement showed her $195,000 investment was worth about $600,000.
Such returns, according to officials with the Minnesota Commerce Department, are a sign of potential fraudulent activity.
“If someone is promising exponential returns on investment, you should be especially leery and check them out,” Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said.
In this case, a records check also could have revealed that Lundin was booked on felony charges in 2015 for choking his wife and threatening to stab her with a broken lamp during a late-night argument.
Lundin pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor and was sentenced to 90 days in the county workhouse. He also was convicted of assaulting a police officer in August 2016 after spitting on an officer’s arm during an argument over a traffic stop, court records show.
Rothman said it is a “blazing red flag” if an investment adviser is not properly licensed.
Cramer said she is kicking herself for not checking on Lundin’s credentials, which can be done online at the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Shame on me,” Cramer said. “But [customers] at Lord Fletcher’s were always talking him up and he was a great salesman.”
State officials did not begin looking at Lundin’s investment business until earlier this year, when Cramer and other investors had trouble withdrawing some of their funds. Cramer was so upset that she posted a copy of her bounced check for $200,000 on her Facebook page.
In e-mails to unhappy clients, Lundin explained that he was withholding their money “for the good of the whole investment fund,” court records show.