Two New York men have pleaded guilty to defrauding at least a dozen people who thought they were investing in a new yacht-sharing club in Florida.

According to the Associated Press, Thomas Heaphy Jr and Brian Ferraioli have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The two were part of a group who told investors that their money would be used to develop the Waters Club, a “time-share” club with a fleet of yachts that members owned jointly.

They solicited almost US$1.3m from August 2016 and February 2017 before the company’s initial public offering. The money was supposed to fund the company’s operations. Instead, the men took about half for their own use. This left the Waters Club without the capital to develop and investors with unsellable shares of a company that never went public.

According to, Ferraioli took US$297,546 and Heaphy US$307,658. The men started selling their Waters Club securities after they found out they were under investigation by the FBI for an unrelated stock scam that lasted from 2011 to 2016. Both men also pleaded guilty in that case last year. They could face up to 20 years in prison in the current Waters Club case.