Florida man sentenced for scamming people out of $680K in scheme involving Rochester man

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A western New York judge sentenced a Florida man to five years in prison over his involvement in a Ponzi scheme involving a Rochester man, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Paul LaRocco, 60 of Ocala, Florida, was convicted of mail fraud for convincing people to invest in companies that he falsely claimed were selling medical devices and offered lab services. In total, people were scammed out of $688,000.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that LaRocco was employed as a financial advisor by KE Smith Tax Advisory Group in 2011. A year later, the advisory group was purchased by Rochester man Christopher Parris, who was convicted in 2021 for selling N95 masks that he didn’t have.

The advisory group’s name changed to USA Tax and, according to attorneys, LaRocco convinced people to invest in illegitimate companies as a USA Tax employee. They say he transferred and withdrew all of the funds and used them to pay himself and his own personal expenses between March 2016, and May 2018.

“LaRocco specifically targeted victims who were of an advanced age and were therefore unusually vulnerable to investment fraud crimes,” said a release from U.S. Attorney Trini Ross.

Attorneys say the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI Buffalo Division, the IRS, and others uncovered the Ponzi scheme.