A Fairfax County man was sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison Friday after he was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme that authorities say defrauded more than 40 investors, including friends and family members, out of $1.3 million.
Amrit Jaswant Singh Chahal, 31, of McLean, started Kane Capital Investment Group in 2014, telling clients he had earned annual returns of 28 percent to 34 percent by investing in commodities and other financial instruments, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Instead, authorities said, Chahal suffered “substantial losses” on his investments and covered them via a Ponzi scheme, paying supposed profits to earlier investors with money collected from new ones.
Three of the victims have Chahal’s last name, according to an FBI accountant’s report. While his clients’ brokerage accounts shrank, Chahal spent some of their money on a luxury car, rent, travel, dining and other living expenses, according to a separate civil complaint filed in April by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In one instance, a McLean resident sent Chahal $100,000. In another, a New Jersey resident sent him $30,000. After Chahal told the victim that the initial investment had more than doubled in value, the person sent him another $150,000, according to the indictment.
The biggest investor lost $214,600, and another lost more than $91,000, according to the FBI accountant.
Chahal pleaded guilty in November to one count of wire fraud and one count of securities and commodities fraud, according to online court records.
In sentencing Chahal, U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema also ordered prosecutors and Chahal’s lawyers to work out how much he should pay in restitution. If they can’t agree on amounts, the judge said, she would hold another court hearing, according to online court records.
Two defense attorneys listed for Chahal in court records did not immediately return emails or phone messages seeking comment Sunday. His lawyer in the SEC civil case, Allison Baker Shealy, declined to comment. There was no answer at a McLean number listed for Chahal in online records.
Kane Capital’s website advertised a “flexible investment approach to any size portfolio,” according to the indictment filed in online court records.
Chahal was arrested in February 2018, two months after an undercover law enforcement agent posing as a potential investor met with him, and Chahal boasted that he had produced returns of at least 28 percent, the indictment said.
The separate civil complaint filed by the SEC said Chahal had almost no experience in the financial or trading industries even as he told clients he was “an experienced and successful trader.”
In May, Brinkema granted prosecutors’ request to put the SEC’s civil case on hold until the criminal case against Chahal was resolved.