A Miami cop was arrested by the FBI this week at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as he tried to board a flight to Costa Rica– skipping town to avoid prosecution for his Ponzi scheme loan company.
Miami Police Department Officer Dermis Hernandez, 41, ran a Ponzi scheme that targeted active and retired cops. But it was one of Hernandez’s colleagues who tipped off investigators that something wasn’t right about the officer’s investment practices.
Hernandez is the second Miami police officer arrested in 2018 so far. Officer Adrian Santos was arrested in January for doing cocaine at popular Miami nightclub E11even.
The Miami U.S. Attorney’s Office reports that Hernandez owned and operated a Costa Rican loan company that deceived clients into expecting returns of over 20 percent.
But federal prosecutors said his company was a scam. He used the proceeds from his company to enhance his personal lifestyle and payback early investors.
FBI Agent Sarah Halleran said,
“In truth, Hernandez and his co-conspirators used the investor funds for personal enrichment and to pay the returns of other investors.”
Hernandez lured clients to invest in his company; he claimed the investments carried little to no risk. Hernandez’s company purportedly provided high-interest loans to property owners in Costa Rica. But Hernandez showed potential clients fake papers that depicted that his company had property rights in Costa Rica.
Clients would then invest in Hernandez’s company under the guise that they were going to be repaid.
One of Hernandez’s clients paid him $10,000 from a personal police retirement fund; the client expected a 20% return on the investment per year, but of course that investment return never came.
Another victim told FBI agents he was guaranteed a 24 percent return on his personal investment of $125,000, but only received $17,000 back in interest payments.
An officer that invested with Hernandez didn’t get his expected return and then went to authorities to inform them about Hernandez’s scheme.
Hernandez apparently caught word that investigators were on to him. And with his wife being a Costa Rican national, Hernandez boarded a flight to Costa Rica at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It was there that the FBI arrested Hernandez in the boarding area.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina spoke at a press conference saying:
“Officer Hernandez has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in conjunction with his involvement in a Ponzi scheme. Officer Hernandez has failed to uphold his oath,”
the Chief went on to say,
“It was disgraceful behavior and we are working to quickly end his employment.”
Hernandez’s bond hearing is set for Friday. The investigation was a joint effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Miami Police Department. The case will be tried in federal court.