NewsLocal News


Convicted scammer accused of starting new scheme, swindling $1.75 million while on probation

Posted at 6:52 PM, Nov 15, 2021

A Utah man has been accused of swindling around $1.75 million dollars from victims by running an alleged day trading scheme.

This isn't the first time Bret Cartwright has been thrown in jail for fraud.

And now his past victims are wondering why he was only given a slap on the wrist the first time, and they're baffled how Cartwright's alleged scams were allowed to continue after his conviction and brief jail time.

Cartwright's Facebook page appears professional at first glance. Listed as a "personal coach," Cartwright claims he is a day trader and Forex Coach with nearly two decades of experience.

A quick look at reviews shows he's got a five-star rating and is highly regarded by others.

READ: SLC attorney confesses to embezzling millions from family of famous skier

"He's been doing this for years, and years, and years," Juliene Kafentzis said.

She's not talking about the day trading.

"He's a criminal. A criminal, a predator," she said.

Kafentzis trusted Cartwright with more than $60,000 of her savings a decade ago. Back then, Cartwright was selling people on investing money to flip houses, but instead, he was pocketing what investors gave him.

Cartwright was convicted of a felony and sentenced in June 2018.

He was sent to jail for two months and ordered to pay back four parties more than $140,000 in restitution.

It appears that after Cartwright finished his sentence, he started to focus on day trading.

This time, the investments he allegedly received were for quite a bit more than what he took in for his house flipping scheme.

"It is the worst feeling in the world, "Kafentzis said, of what it's like to hand someone tens of thousands of dollars and have it disappear. "You put your trust into someone, you hope your investment is safe."

According to court documents, some filed just a couple weeks ago, less than nine months after Cartwright's jail sentence, he met someone from St. George and ended up convincing them to give him more than $224,000, “to open new trading accounts and day trade, when in fact a majority of funds was used to finance CARTWRIGHT’S personal lifestyle and his personal day trading ventures."

READ: Utah entrepreneur charged with scamming 'vulnerable' romantic partner out of home equity

Another victim from Riverton, investigators said, gave Cartwright $1.5 million dollars for the same reason.

The alleged day trading hoax went on from early 2019 until a few months ago.

During this time, Kafentzis explained she was barely receiving her $110 a month restitution payments from Cartwright.

"He stopped payments, for one. He got behind," she said.

Now she knows that instead of paying her back, Cartwright was allegedly profiting off others.

"It's gut-wrenching," she said. "The payments are so small, it's like a slap in the face."

In May 2021, Cartwright was arrested on charges of securities fraud and money laundering related to the St. George victim's couple-hundred-thousand-dollar loss.

Less than a month later in June, court documents filed October 28 state that Cartwright called his father, Marvin Cartwright, from jail, and “gave MARVIN explicit instructions on what to tell [the victim]."

Marvin Cartwright, documents say, texted the $1.5 million investor from Bret's phone pretending to be Bret to tell the victim about another "investment opportunity."

Kafentzis said she's not surprised to hear of the new allegations, including that Bret continued his scheme from behind bars.

"What a slap in the face. Like, it's a joke, really," she said. "He's sitting in jail and still scamming people."

The Utah Attorney General's Office and Department of Commerce could not comment on the specific case.

According to additional documents from the Department of Commerce, the Division of Securities filed an administrative action against Cartwright in 2010 alleging securities fraud, "in connection with a real estate scheme." This is separate from the case involving Kafentzis.

In 2017, the Division of Securities filed another administrative action against Cartwright for the same reason. That filing was made parallel to the criminal case in which Kafentzis was a victim.

The Division of Securities barred Cartwright from the securities industry the second time and fined him $100,000.

According to the documents, Cartwright has not paid the fine.

To date, Kafentzis estimates she's received less than five percent of the restitution owed to her.

She's hoping the court system handles things differently this time around.

"He really needs to do some hard time," she said. "They need to liquidate his assets-- which he has-- and pay people back."