A self-proclaimed “award-winning guitar hero” could spend the next eight years in prison after pleading guilty to misleading investors. Marino deSilva lured investors by offering the opportunity to invest in unreleased recordings by legendary music groups, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but instead released low quality recordings of himself performing the tracks.
DeSilva, who once described himself as an “international multi-platinum award-winning guitarist”, plead guilty to making fraudulent sales of investments. He was sentenced to at least three years of a possible eight-year sentence, after which he will be eligible for deportation back to the UK.
DeSilva founded the Angels on Earth Foundation in 2005, which claimed to raise funds to support things such as “wounded American troops and kids with autism”. Investors were sought out to assist in digital re-mastering of recordings from iconic bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Carlos Santane. DeSilva told his investors that once released, these rare recordings and interviews would be in high demand and product a large return on investment.
DeSilva took in millions of dollars from investors by claiming to have unreleased recordings from famous musicians. In one example, DeSilva claimed to have in his possession unreleased recordings from musician Jim Hendrix. In reality, what he had was low quality interviews from a Swedish writer named Jimi Hendrix.
In addition to misrepresenting the nature of the investments, DeSilva also never donated any of the money he raised to charity. Instead, in classic Ponzi scheme style, he used new investor funds to make “royalty” payments to existing investors. This helped create the facade that DeSilva’s operation was successful.
DeSilva also used investor funds to pay for his lavish lifestyle.
After victims began to complain, an investigation began and DeSilva was arrested on 22 counts of fraud and theft.
Source: Forbes Online