$5M Texas-Based Securities Fraud Scam Pursued Foreign Investors Wanting US Residency Via EB-5 Program

The SEC has filed fraud charges against a couple over a Texas securities scam that allegedly targeted foreign investors wanting to become American residents. Bebe and Marco Ramirez and three of their companies-USA Now LLC, Now Co. Loan Services, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP-are accused of fraudulently raising at least $5 million from customers who were falsely promised that their cash would be invested in EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program.

Investors in Mexico, Egypt, and Nigeria were reportedly targeted. None of the investors ever received green cards let alone conditional visas from investing with the Ramirez’s and their companies.

The actual program allows foreign investors to receive conditional visas and later green cards if they invest in US economic development projects that help preserve or create a certain number of jobs for our nation’s workers. However, contends the regulator, rather than investing the money into the program, the Ramirezes moved investor funds to other businesses or used the money for their personal spending. Also, at least once, the couple allegedly used new investors’ money to pay existing investors in Ponzi scheme-fashion.

The SEC’s complaint says that as early as 2010, the Ramirez’s pursued approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to register USA Now as an EB-5 regional center that could receive and direct foreign investors’ investments into investment opportunities that were supposed to meet visa requirements. Yet before USCIS had made a decision, the Ramirezes and their employees began pursuing investors.

The couple supposedly told investors that the company would keep their investments in escrow until the government had approved their request. The two of them then went on to misappropriate the funds, including opening up a Cajun-themed restaurant.

Our Texas securities fraud law firm represents investors in the US, as well as foreign investors that have suffered investment fraud losses perpetrated by a US-based financial firm, representative, or broker. Contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP today. We can help you determine whether you have grounds for a securities case.

The SEC’s complaint against the Ramirezes (PDF)

Investor Alert: Investment Scams Exploit Immigrant Investor Program, SEC

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Texas Man gets 40-Year Prison Sentence for Phony Annuity Scam That Targeted Elderly Women, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 23, 2013

Texas Judge Throws Out Verizon Retirees’ Class Action Lawsuit Over $8.4B Pension Sales to Prudential, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 9, 2013
GAO Wants SEC to Look At Other Criteria for Who Qualifies As An Accredited Investor, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 31, 2013

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