This article was corrected on December 16, 2021 at 6:00am ET. The date of the donation to the El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation was on November 20, 2020, not November 20, 2021 as originally reported.
In October of this year, Abner Alejandro Tinoco was accused of running a Ponzi scheme based out of El Paso. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil lawsuit on September 28 accusing Tinoco of stealing $3.9 million from investors. Tinojo was selling cryptocurrency and FOREX investment. FOREX is trading in foreign currency. Tinoco’s investment company is Kikit & Mess Investments, LLC. On October 13, 2021 his assets were frozen by the government. 
According to the government, Tinoco engaged “in an ongoing scheme in which they defrauded over 61 clients…out of $3.9 million.” Tinoco was selling investments, but instead of using the investors’ money for trading, he and instead used the money “for Tinoco’s personal benefit” in “a Ponzi scheme.” 
Tinoco “is a resident of El Paso” and formed the company, Kikit & Mess Investments, LLC., in September 2020. In October 2020, Tinoco launched his fraudulent website, according to government records. 
El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation Accepted $10,000 One Month After Fraud Started
One month after Abner Tinoco started his fraud, on November 20, 2020, the El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation publicly accepted and thanked Kikit for a $10,000 donation to the foundation. El Paso Children’s Hospital CEO, Cindy Stout, thanked them online for the donation. 
The Fraud And Seizing of Assets
Tinoco took in $3.9 million from investors according to the court documents. Instead of investing the client’s money, Tinoco took the investments and spent it on himself, including the “chartering of a private jet, luxury mansion,” and “the purchase or lease of a luxury automobile and real estate in the El Paso area.”  To date, 125 investors have been identified. 
Instead of trading the investments, Tinoco opened a trading account with “a mere $10 and executed negligible trades of foreign currency”. 
On October 26, 2021, the court ordered assets of Tinoco and his companies into receivership. The receivership is tasked with using the assets to payback the investors who lost money to Tinoco’s fraud.  According to court records, the assets were seized simultaneously under a secret court order before the October 26 order. 
On October 14, 2021, a team of four – three attorneys and a computer expert met with two CFTC representatives along with law enforcement and process servers in El Paso. The group was divided up into four teams and dispersed to four locations: two homes, an office and the Wells Fargo bank in downtown El Paso. At 10:30 in the morning, the teams simultaneously seized Tinoco’s assets from the four locations. 
At one property, Tinoco’s grandfather called Tinoco and put him in contact with one of the individuals seizing Tinoco’s property. According to the court filing, Tinoco refused to answer any questions by telephone and “lied” about his whereabout at the time of the seizures to the individual he spoke to on the telephone. 
Among the items seized by the teams included an Audi and a Rolls Royce. The individuals seizing the property decided to leave a “white Lamborghini” because it was leased and the lease was expiring “in a matter of days.” 
The other location where the seizures were performed was described in the court documents as an office “in the third floor of a swanky Centre Building in downtown El Paso, located at 123 W. Mills Ave.”  The Centre Building is owned and managed by Franklin Mountain Investments, an investment company owned by Paul Foster. Franklin Mountain Investments also owns the El Paso Chihuahuas, the FC Juárez soccer team and the El Paso Locomotive FC, also a soccer team.
In the office at the Centre Building, among the seized items included “$2,900 in cash, and a pile of fake $100 bills.” 
In its most recent report to the court, the Receivership handling the seized assets said they have recovered $838,752.98 from Wells Fargo, about $300,000 in property in El Paso, a Bentley worth about $175,000, $32,000 in jewelry and a painting worth about $3,500. Two horses were also recovered from Tinoco. Velvet Jac is an American Paint Horse that Tinoco purchased for $7,500. Another horse, Perfect Pair was purchased by Tinoco for $80,000 on September 7, 2021. 
Among the jewelry recovered included four watches, including at least one Patek Phillipe and a Prada. All four watches were “knock-offs” that had little to no value. The investigators also discovered that Tinoco had purchased nine pieces of jewelry from Cartier for $32,922.97. Tinoco has refused to turn over the jewelry to the court. Another $25,000 in diamonds have also not been turned over to the court. 
On December 8, 2021, the court received a report informing it that Tinoco is lying to investors about the status of the pending case against him, has transferred money “unlawfully” and has not fully cooperated in turning over assets as required by the court order. 
Status of Donation To El Paso Children’s Hospital
It is unknown whether the El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation has returned the $10,000 donation given to it from the ill-gotten Tinoco funds. El Paso Politics reviewed the 2020 financial statements filed by the organization with the IRS, the most current version available, and found no indications that any donated funds were returned.
It is generally accepted that accepting stolen goods, or money, is a crime. However, for it to be a crime, the foundation would have needed to know that the funds were stolen when they were received.
El Paso Politics would like to thank the anonymous “John Wesley” for emailing us this lead. We encourage our readers to provide information they deem important. We welcome all leads, including anonymous ones. However, please note that we must be able to confirm the allegations before we run our articles. Depending on the difficulty required to verify it may take weeks or even months before we can run the article. However, we value each lead and we do our best to track down verifying details. The more information included in the lead the easier it is for us to follow up.
- Aaron Martinez, “El Paso man accused of $3.9 million fraud involving stocks, cryptocurrencies investments,” El Paso Times, October 22, 2021.
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Abner Alejandro Tinoco, and Kikit & Mess Investments, LLC. (3:21-cv-00237-DCG), “Complaint for Injunctive Relief, Civil Monetary Penalties, and Other Equitable Relief,” United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, September 28, 2021.
- Facebook post from the account of the El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation on November 20, 2020.
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Abner Alejandro Tinoco, and Kikit & Mess Investments, LLC. (3:21-cv-00237-DCG), “Consent Order For Preliminary Injunction Against Defendant Abner Alejandro Tinoco,” United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, September 28, 2021.
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Abner Alejandro Tinoco, and Kikit & Mess Investments, LLC. (3:21-cv-00237-DCG), “Initial Report of the Receiver” United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, December 8, 2021.