Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced that an unregistered investment adviser was sentenced to 3 years in state prison for stealing over $471,000 from 24 investors he recruited to invest in an unregulated commodities trading group he founded called Think Big Institute, LLC (“Think Big”).
Scott Nicholson, 54, of North Haledon, was sentenced Thursday by Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed in Passaic County.
Nicholson is required to make full restitution and consent to the dissolution of “Think Big.” He pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by unlawful taking in September 2021.
“Protecting New Jerseyans from investment fraud and other scams is a priority for our office,” Acting Attorney General Bruck said.
“This case demonstrates our willingness to use all the tools at our disposal – civil and criminal – to protect residents from financial exploitation.”
According to Acting Attorney General Bruck, Nicholson was initially investigated by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, which referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau for criminal investigation.
In April 2021, the Bureau of Securities found that Nicholson and Think Big operated a fraud against investors and issued a Cease and Desist Order against them to prevent further violations of the New Jersey Uniform Securities Law, Acting Attorney General Bruck said.
From 2008 through 2017, Nicholson recruited a group of 24 investors to invest in Think Big.
Nicholson acted as an unregistered investment adviser solely responsible for investment decisions in Think Big.
According to Acting Attorney General Bruck, eventually, Think Big incurred substantial losses, due in part to failed investments.
Around that time, Nicholson began to misappropriate investor monies by withdrawing existing investment monies and new investments in Think Big for his personal benefit.
Acting Attorney General Bruck said that Nicholson hid substantial investment losses by Think Big by creating fraudulent investment statements showing false positive returns.
The 24 investors lost $471,602, representing the amount of their principal investments less dividends they received.