On June 29th, 2020, The CFTC or Commodity Futures Trading Commission put the “pimp hand” on Long Leaf Futures Trading Group and their “Time Means Money” options educational training program.
In short, the CFTC is alleging a massive fraud.
All told, the scam netted $4.1 million in the form of selling options trading systems and earned commissions for the brokerage.
In addition to being skinned alive for the “systems, education, and commissions” the victims additionally lost $6.1 million in actual investment losses.
According to the NFA and the CFTC, the total losses were, at a minimum, $10.2 million.
Individual defendents include James Donelson, Andrew Nelson, Scott Gecas, and James Leeney — all from Illinois. Additional defendants include Jeremey Ruth of Austin, Texas and Timothy Evans of Tulum, Mexico.
Has anyone ever been to Tulum, Mexico? To call it a shitty little town with one bad taco stand and two stray dogs is not an exaggeration. The place rests in the shadow of the Mayan pyramids and contains maybe 4 or 5 shacks with questionable sewage.
I have been to Tulum, Mexico (twice). The pyramids are great — the town is not. And the person that supposedly lives in the shadow of the Mayan pyramids is none other than the “world-famous trader” Timothy Evans.
Timmy claims to be all sorts of things — Internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, investment manager to “the stars,” purveyor of fine wines and arts, a generous benefactor to multiple charities, drives a shiny sports car, and of course, connoisseur of unlimited shrimp cocktail.
But more on that later…
According to the CFTC…
According to the CFTC complaint, the perennial fucktards involved with this scheme were either actively registered with the NFA or had been recently banned and fined for not obtaining the proper registration with the CFTC.
In the complaint filed by the CFTC and the NFA, the scheme was pretty simple and straightforward. The defendants where introducing Futures brokers and operated a seemingly straightlaced “Options Education” website at TimeMeansMoney.com.
At some point during the supposed educational process, the victims were then steered to an actual Futures brokerage named LongLeafTrading.com. Defendants either controlled or had a controlling interest in both the educational website and the Futures brokerage.
Both websites are now defunct. However, using Archive.Org, we were able to piece together the puzzle of “HOW” the scam actually worked.
Additionally, two of the victims provided additional information and context on how they were duped into losing their money.
The CFTC usually provides very mundane references of fact in their complaints. After writing hundreds of these sorts of articles, I usually have to break down the allegations into different pieces, and then tease out the motivation and mechanics of how the fraud was technically pulled off.
The good stuff is always just below the surface. Lets continue.
Interview of victim A
Victim ‘A’ wished to be remain anonymous. She is also very embarrassed about the situation. Losing her retirement has been extremely painful. However, she was kind enough to get on the phone and purge her memory of the pain.
According to her, she was an avid watcher of financial television. In particular, Bloomberg News and CNBC. Every afternoon, she would turn on Bloomberg or CNBC for a recap of the day’s events and perhaps discover a new investment idea.
One of the people that she was particularly impressed was Tim Evans. He was on TV nearly every day for three years. The Bloomberg show would trot out Tim and he would pontificate on the “how and why” markets were moving. The CNBC show, in which Timmy would regularly appear, would focus on oil, gold, and commodities.
As she described, Tim was very handsome with boyish good looks. And he looked very trustworthy. His hair was tidy and his suit was crisp. He sounded very authoritative, and when he smiled….it made her heart swoon.
As she watched the TV shows, captioned on the bottom of the screen was the company named: Long Leaf Trading. She became curious and she sought out the wise wisdom of this handsome man. And so, she sheepishly went onto “the Google” and searched for “Long Leaf Trading.”
Her search returned the website LongLeafTrading.com, which was a Futures brokerage. And so, mustering her courage, and knowing absolutely nothing about Futures trading…she called and asked for the handsome Tim Evans.
To her surprise, Mr. Evans picked up the phone and was even more charming in person than on the television. She felt she was lucky to be speaking with an actual TV celebrity that created videos on the floor of the Options exchange.
The charming Timothy Evans
The conversation started warm and seemed to get warmer and borderline flirtatious. He asked how much money she had in her retirement account, which consisted of dividend-paying stocks.
Next, he told her that Options trading was a much better and safer investment than dividend-paying stocks, which were yielding about 4% each year.
After getting her all warm and buttery, he abruptly told her that he could not talk about potential returns because the brokerage has rules regarding making promises on expected returns.
However, he then recommended that she visit the “options education” website that was located at TimeMeansMoney.Com and she could speak with an “educational counselor” and that he would be able to give her more specifics on what sort of returns she could expect.
She complied. And then she picked up the phone and called into what sounded like the very same office. However, instead of speaking to Timothy Evans, she spoke with another smooth sounding person that wanted to schedule a live webinar.
As he explained, the webinar would supposedly teach her about the “Premium Strategies Collection” and educate her on how the Options trading program worked.
The live webinar
Later that day, she attended the webinar with her “educational counselor.” He presented himself as a “professional options trader” and had spent his entire career on the floors of the exchanges in Chicago.
The person explained that Options were much less risky than stocks and that their “proprietary systems” would achieve — at least — a win rate of 85%.
Additionally, he promised that she could resonably expect to earn 10% to 25% each and every month by collecting options premium. That this was essentially risk-free, and that the close proximity to the Options exchange gave the firm “the advantage of information and speed.”
She was impressed. It was true, that on the television, she could see Timothy Evans on the floor of the Options exchange. And this appearance seemed very credable.
Additionally, the “educational counselor” assured her that since Timothy Evans was always on the television, that Bloomberg and CNBC have already properly vetted him, and this served as proof of his successful ability to trade options.
All of this sounded very wonderful. The “educational counselor” presented spreadsheets of supposed trades and this served as undeniable proof that Mr. Evans trades were real.
However, she thought it strange that the “educational counselor” additionally presented a visual disclaimer that also stated that “all performance is hypothetical.” She asked about that, he replied “Oh, dont worry about that. That is just something that the regulators force everyone into displaying.
He assured her, “all my clients are making money.” and “some I made millionaires.” He presented pictures and written testimonies of supposedly happy people that described their lives as changed for the better. All because of the supposedly amazing Timothy Evans and his “Time Means Money” options trading program.
When she balked at having to sell her entire stock portfolio to open a new trading account at Long Leaf Futures, the “educational counselor” gave her the additional choice of simply purchasing the system for $4,995. And in addition, she was also given the opportunity for “one on one coaching” with a “professional options trader.”
This coaching would cost an additional $6,995 but she would have to make a decision quickly. As he described, the coaching is extremely limited and only on a first-come, first-serve basis.
It all sounded so wonderful. She thought, “gee, I can just purchase the coaching and learn this stuff myself” and “investing $7k for an education that can lead to a new career seemed very reasonable.”
Additionally, the thought of working “more closely” with the handsome Timmy the Options trader gave her a strange “tingle.” You get the picture.
The hopes and dreams
Anyway, Victim ‘A’ had been contemplating retiring in another five years, but then she began to wildly fantasize that the Options education could possibly put her into early retirement, and most importantly — with a brand new source of income.
Next, she calculated that if she could get a return of 5% per month, and not the 10-25% as promised, then within two years, her $50k nest egg would become about $160k. And with that amount, she could live off the monthly interest earned from her trading.
Its all sounded so wonderful. She even fantasized about what her family and friends would think when they discovered her newfound skill of being a full time Options trader.
After thinking about it for a few days, she decided that she would keep her current job for two more years, but liquidate her stock portfolio and then send her money to Timothy Evans to trade on her behalf, at Long Leaf Trading.
She decided it best to hold off purchasing the “personal coaching” and “trading systems” and for the time being — let Long Leaf Trading manage her money.
The first six months…
After opening her account, and being yet again buttered up by Mr. Evans, which included an invitation to have dinner with him in Chicago to meet a “real trader” she started to feel a little strange.
The first thing she thought strange was that Mr. Evans had her fill out three separate disclosures regarding hypothetical performance. Each time, he told her is was just a formality and required by the exchange. But it stuck her as strange. Yet she trusted him
After the first month, her account immediately dropped from $50k to $45k. But Mr. Evans assured her that this was “actually a good thing” because it signaled that his trading methodology always came back stronger.
He explained that “I used to be a prop trader” and “this was absolutely normal.” She had no idea what a “prop trader” was, nor did it feel “absolutely normal.”
After three months, her account dropped down to $25k and she started to feel sick to her stomach. Mr. Evans told her yet again that draw downs were normal and she had to “stick with it.”
But at this point, she started to feel that something was amiss. The TimeIsMoney.Com website was keeping a log of trades, but this log did not accurately reflect was she was experiencing in her account.
In particular, the TimeIsMoney.Com website did not calculate slippage and commission for each and every trade. And since she was trading spreads, (which she still does not understand) this amounted to a tremendous amount of money.
When she complained, she was told that the performance summaries on the website were simply “Hypothetical Performance” and a best-case scenario and that each trader’s performance was different because of a variety of factors.
Finally, after six months — she was wiped out. Her savings were gone. Her hopes and dreams were dashed. She felt she had been defrauded.
Timothy Evans then refused to get on the phone with her. And this made her mad. Really mad. As they say, “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.”
Not knowing where to turn next, she then started to research how to file a complaint. But who to contact?
Eventually, she discovered that the correct venue to file a complaint would be the CFTC and the NFA. She filed a complaint at the NFA or National Futures Association here:
And then she filed a complaint with the CFTC or Commodity Futures Trading Commission here:
Several weeks later, she was contacted by an investigator.
ESP or Electronic Surveillance Program
Most people are not aware but both the CFTC and the NFA have separate investigative units that investigate potential fraud in the Futures, and derivatives markets.
This includes all derivatives. Whether they be stock options, futures options, Forex, or any derivative or swap.
The NFA were certainly interested in the story of Customer A and they sent their ESP or Electronic Surveillance Team to pose as prospective customers of this so-called Options educational company and Options brokerage.
A few months passed, and mysteriously, the handsome Timothy Evans disappeared from the company. He was replaced by a less handsomer version named Scott Gecas.
However, just like Mr. Evans had formally appeared on Bloomberg and CNBC, he was replaced by Mr. Gecas. But it was the same old song and dance. Mr. Gecas would appear on the TV and give his worthless advice on how to trade options.
You can find more of the videos on the YouTube channel that Long Leaf Trading used to store each TV appearance here:
At about the same time, Customer A was curious what happened to the handsome man known as Timothy Evans. The company replied that Mr. Evans was now living in Tulum Mexico, and he had gone on a spiritual journey and some other bullshit.
Considering that Tulum is actually just a tourist destination for people visiting Cancun, Mexico…she figured that Mr. Evans was probably holed up in Cancun, sipping pina colada’s on her dime.
It really made her mad thinking that Tim Evans was probably dancing at some nightclub, bullshitting woman, looking for his next payday. After all, he was so charming.
The big reveal
Finally, on June 29 2020, the CFTC put the hammer on two of the co-conspirators: Scott Gecas and James Leeney. Both represented the most recent owners of the Options educational website and the brokerage.
Scott Gecas agreed to pay $150k and James Leeney agreed to pay $350k. Both admitted to the fraud. Additionally, neither will be allowed to open any trading accounts with a FINRA or NFA member firm.
As far as Timmy Evans, he is still hiding in Tulum, Mexico and his judgment awaits. I imagine it won’t be pretty.
The problem with financial media
Sometimes I really wonder about Bloomberg, CNBC, and financial television in general. Dont they ever vet any of these colorful characters? I mean, is it really that hard?
And, when these shady fuckers get caught, why isn’t Bloomberg and CNBC broadcasting a story on the fucktards that just got busted?
Part of the problem is that the financial media must accommodate the advertisers, which is primarily the brokerages and related services. Nobody wants to talk about, or write about these scams.
Instead, they end up as some tiny press release at the CFTC. Nobody ever sees it. It gets quietly swept under the rug. These financial media shows just go out and find a newer pretty face to promote, and the cycle repeats itself over and over.
Another problem is commercialization of these sorts of articles. The major news outlets would never pay a journalist to expose these sorts of frauds. Instead, its left up to citizen journalists to craft and create these stories…with too often, earth shattering personal consequences — like lawsuits and threats of physical violence.
Wrapping things up
Thanks for making it this far. This was a long read that finished without much of a bang.
There are two important takeaways from this article:
- Financial media is bullshit. They vet nobody.
- Hypothetical performance is the segway to fraud.
Once again, thanks for reading. And I would love to know your thoughts and read your comments below.