just_in1The owner of an investment firm based in Fair Haven was arrested Monday on charges he ran an $18 million Ponzi scheme, federal authorities said.

Louis J. Spina, 56, formerly of Colts Neck, is alleged to have lost $8 million of that amount on stock trades and burned through the rest to pay his clients phony ‘returns,’ as well as for personal expenses, “including car purchases/payments, luxury apartment rental payments, and a $400,000 donation to a private university,” the office of United States Attorney Paul Fishman said in a prepared announcement.

Through his Fair Haven-based firm, LJS Trading, Spina ran the scam from October 2010 through this month, authorities said. Google says the firm was at 612 River Road.

According to the feds, he told 28 clients he would invest their funds using algorithmic computer software, and that the guaranteed they’d get monthly rates of return ranging from 9 to 14 percent.

Instead, the feds allege, Spina commingled all of the investor funds together in one bank account and transferred only $8 million of the total to a trading account, which he then lost in unsuccessful trading.

As recently as last month, an FBI agent alleges in an affidavit, Spina told investors that:

a wealthy individual was planning to buy LJ S and that, based on the
deal, the investors would earn an even higher rate of return on their investment (between 14
and 30 percent). As a result of this fabricated story, LJ S obtained approximately $1.7
million in new investor funds, including a wire transfer on or about October 7, 2013, from
Victim Investor l’s Wells Fargo Private Bank account in New Jersey to the LJ S Account in

If convicted on the wire fraud count with which he’s charged, Spina faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the crime, the feds said.