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Fraudster gets 70 months for ‘mammoth’ scam on girlfriend’s family

Randall Rye spent money from his girlfriend's family and friends to see the Chicago Cubs in the World Series — and meet comedian Bill Murray. | Photo from Federal Court records

Randall Rye spent more than two years winning his girlfriend’s heart — and her family’s trust.

Jacqueline Dittrich’s family in California believed she had met her future husband. They trusted him when he told them about his “hugely successful” trading algorithm. And they, along with their friends, sank $1.72 million into his firm, Faster than Light Trading LLC.

Then he blew right through it, the feds say. Rye spent their cash going to Bali and Saint Lucia; to the Super Bowl, the Masters Golf Tournament and Lollapalooza. He even spent $110,000 on 14 tickets to see the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, where he met comedian Bill Murray.

To top it all off, Dittrich told a judge, she didn’t realize her boyfriend had duped her parents and their friends out of their life savings until the FBI called. By then, Rye had fled to Switzerland. She never even had a chance to break up with him.

Randall Rye, 26, who was sentenced to 70 months in prison Wednesday for scamming his girlfriend’s family and friends out of $1.72 million. | Photo from Federal Court records
Randall Rye, 26, who was sentenced to 70 months in prison Wednesday for scamming his girlfriend’s family and friends out of $1.72 million. | Photo from Federal Court records

Rye eventually wandered back to the United States for a brief visit, giving the feds a chance to nab him last February. And so, in a Chicago courtroom Wednesday, Dittrich finally locked eyes with the man who “proved that people really are capable of anything” and told the judge that, “everything he ever told me was a lie.”

Moments later, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman sentenced the 26-year-old Rye to 70 months in prison for a “mammoth betrayal of trust.” He also ordered Rye to pay back the $1.72 million in restitution. Rye pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud.

Rye advertised his high-flying lifestyle on social media — chomping on a cigar in one photo above the words, “Good morning peasants” — but he appeared in court Wednesday in an orange jumpsuit with his legs shackled. There, he offered Dittrich and her family his “deepest remorse.”

“I’m wracked with shame and remorse over my actions that will haunt me over the rest of my life,” Rye said.

But even after hearing comments from Rye, his defense attorney and a federal prosecutor, Guzman said, “I have yet to come across an explanation as to why this happened.”

Rye is a “mini-Madoff” who moved to Illinois from California in 2013, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani. While he may have read “a few books on the subject of trading,” the feds say he had no formal education on the topic, and his algorithm was a myth. His college GPA was 1.6.

However, Rye spoke well enough about the markets to even land on CNBC. So he seemed to have little trouble duping Dittrich’s parents and grandparents into giving him money. The family even convinced their friends to invest with him. Now their friends don’t trust them, and Dittrich’s father told the judge, “I don’t blame them.”

Rye’s father, Vernon Rye, told the judge his son struggles with Attention Deficit Disorder, and he was raised around Catholicism and an environment “that fostered participation in philanthropy.”

Harjani agreed that Rye had many opportunities that others do not. And in his mid-20s, Rye had his whole life ahead of him, “with so many opportunities for success.”

But, Harjani said, Rye “blew it in spectacular fashion.”