BALTIMORE, Md. – The FBI and the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland are seeking to identify potential victims who may have been defrauded through an investment company called The Smart Partners LLC. Starting in 2017 until May 2019, Smart Partners was doing business as “1st Million Dollars,” or “1st Million,” headquartered in Largo, Maryland, but solicited investments from victims in Texas, Georgia, New York, Florida, and potentially other locations.

It is alleged that Dennis Jali, John Frimpong, and Arley Johnson, who have all been arrested, recruited victims to invest in 1st Million by holding promotional events at upscale hotels and event spaces, attending church-sponsored events intended to target investments from churchgoers, and representing themselves as religious men more interested in the philanthropic financial freedom of others than personal financial gain. The defendants allegedly presented themselves as pastors and told prospective investors that 1st Million’s work was in furtherance of God’s mission as it helped churches and their members achieve personal wealth and financial freedom.

The indictment alleges that the defendants persuaded or attempted to persuade investors to provide them with wire transfers, checks, and cash totaling more than $28 million, from numerous victims, under the fraudulent pretense of investing in the foreign exchange and cryptocurrency markets.  Analysis has revealed financial activity consistent with a Ponzi scheme in which Jali, Frimpong, and Johnson allegedly diverted substantial amounts of investor funds for personal use and to pay back earlier investors.

If you have any information concerning this case, or if you believe you are a victim or may have been affected by these alleged crimes, please complete a brief questionnaire at: https://www.fbi.gov/resources/victim-services/seeking-victim-information/seeking-victims-in-the-1st-million-investigation

Your responses are voluntary, but would be useful in the federal investigation and to identify you as a potential victim. You may be contacted by the FBI and asked to provide additional information.

The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that it investigates and provide these victims with information assistance services, and resources. If you have any questions regarding this questionnaire or resources for victims, please email firstmillion@fbi.gov.

The indictment was announced Friday August 28, 2020, by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Matthew S. Miller of the United States Secret Service – Washington Field Office; and Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.

The charges in a complaint are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.