TAMPA — Claiming to be an experienced commodities trader and a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, Matthew R. White persuaded a half-dozen people to invest $1.29 million with his Tampa company, promising returns that would beat the stock market by double digits.
Instead, federal officials say, White, 27, was never a commodities trader, but someone who used some of his victims’ money to pay his rent, credit card bills and car payments while doing little trading and sending out fake statements showing big profits. The victims were relatives or acquaintances in Florida and the state of Washington. One victim in his late 80s, a friend of one of his relatives, entrusted White with most of his life savings and fell into hardship after losing the money.
Now the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission says White and his Tampa-based company, M.W. Global Futures, are paying more than $1 million to settle charges related to improperly soliciting investors, misappropriating funds and operating without required registrations.
The agency’s order requires White and his company to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 and restitution of $883,974, of which $602,003 White paid during the trading commission’s investigation. The agency said he also initially repaid another $400,000.
“He repaid all of this money before there was a criminal case against him,” said his attorney, Mark O’Brien of Tampa. White, he said, aspired to run a legitimate business that he was not qualified to run and was not good at, and ended up hurting people and committing crimes that he regrets. “Unlike the vast majority of people who commit fraud crimes, he did his very best to try to right his wrong, because he still has a moral compass.”
Meanwhile, White, who has since moved from the Tampa Bay area to Cocoa Beach, has pleaded guilty in federal court in the state of Washington to one count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 10.
“Whatever happens at sentencing is my burden to bear and is not the fault of anyone else,” White said in written statement submitted in the federal criminal case earlier this month. “My actions were unconscionable under moral law and illegal under our country’s law. I absolutely deserve to be punished. I know I will go to federal prison. I deserve it.”