JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Friday that officers are looking for Cedric Griffin, 47, who has an active warrant for organized fraud in connection to multiple cases. Thursday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a federal lawsuit against Griffin, accusing him of running a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme primarily targeting Jacksonville residents.
According to the SEC, Griffin promised clients high returns from his work flipping houses but actually spent their money to pay other investors and himself.
According to the SEC lawsuit, Griffin scammed 103 victims into investing at least $5,895,024 into his businesses, “G8 Equity” and “G8 RE Capital,” from January 2020 to at least December 2021 in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
It appears Griffin is on the run. He was supposed to appear in Duval County court Thursday for a hearing in another criminal case that was about to go to trial, but he didn’t show.
Griffin’s organized fraud trial was supposed to begin Monday in Duval County. He has an active warrant for organized fraud with a bond of $500,000.
Griffin’s attorney told the I-TEAM Friday afternoon that he doesn’t know where his client is.
Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not affiliated with the case, said Griffin has a lot to answer for.
“There’s a tremendous amount here,” Nichols said. “This is rising to the level of what we see come out of New York and Los Angeles. There are millions of dollars at issue here, and so he has a lot of questions to answer.”
Nichols said the organized fraud warrant issued on Griffin is probably related to the scheme spelled out in the SEC allegation. Griffin’s attorney also told the I-TEAM he thinks the cases are related.
According to the SEC suit, Griffin mostly targeted people in Jacksonville, bringing potential clients to his Baymeadows Road office and promising them returns as high as 25% within weeks. The SEC suit says Griffin didn’t actually use the money to invest in real estate, but instead spent it to pay out other investors and himself, withdrawing more than half a million dollars from his “G8″ companies over 13 months and dropping dough at luxury retailers, jewelry stores, and in church donations.
When the I-TEAM paid a visit Friday to the address listed in court filings as Griffin’s office, it was vacant. A worker at a neighboring business said he’d been gone for at least a year.
“Investigations like this from State Attorney’s Office [and] from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office take a tremendous amount of time because there’s so much involved,” Nichols said.
Griffin is already facing three unrelated charges of grand theft filed last year, which was why he was supposed to appear in court Thursday.