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FBI seeking victims of “1st Million” ponzi scheme

Posted at 10:24 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 17:16:34-05

BALTIMORE, md. — The FBI and the U.S. Attorney are looking to connect with victims who may have been defrauded through an investment company called The Smart Partners LLC.

Officials say 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.

The FBI alleges that Dennis Jali, John Frimpong, and Arley Johnson 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 here.

Your responses are voluntary. You may be contacted by the FBI and asked to provide additional information. You can find out more by contacting FBI Baltimore at

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