Articles Posted in Ponzi Scams

Two Men Are Accused of Scamming Indiana Investors in More than $3.5M Ponzi Scam 
Prosecutors are charging two Indiana men with securities fraud involving a Ponzi scam. They claim that Richard E. Gearhart and his business partner George R. McKown sold securities to investors who moved their annuities, pensions, cash, and 401ks to invest in Asset Preservation Specialists Inc. The investors were purportedly promised a guaranteed return rate.

The authorities say that McKown and Gearhart were not registered with the state of Indiana or the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell these securities.

It was in 2013 that a number of Gearhart’s clients filed complaints against him after he filed for Chapter 13 federal bankruptcy. They contended that their losses collectively totaled over $2M. Court records, however, indicate that the two men allegedly stole over $3.5M from over two dozen investors. between ’08 and ’13.

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Texas First Financial CEO is Arrested For Fraud

Authorities have arrested Bobby Eugene Guess, an ex-Texas-based registered representative and the CEO and founder of Texas First Financial, for financial fraud. Guess promoted himself as a financial expert through financial seminars and radio promotions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

He is accused of running a Ponzi scam online involving two companies—StaMedia Inc., which is a Dallas company, and TenList Inc. According to the Texas State Securities Board, Guess was indicted for money laundering, securities fraud, theft, and taking part in organized criminal activity involving the multi-million-dollar sales of investments in an internet ad company.

Prosecutors contend that Guess and others sold $6M in investment contracts, stock certificates, and notes in Stamedia Inc. Also, he allegedly raised millions of dollars from Stamedia investors from ’14 to ’16 but did not disclose that the company’s net income and revenue were negligible. Investor funds were allegedly used to pay earlier investors the returns they were promised.

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Charles Caleb Fackrell is sentenced 63 months behind bars and three years of court supervision. The 36-year-old former North Carolina financial adviser, who worked with LPL Financial (LPLA), pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud earlier this year. He now must pay his victims nearly $820K in restitution.

According to court documents, Fackrell ran an investment scam from approximately 5/2012 to 12/2014. During this time, he solicited about $1.4M from at least 20 investors. The companies he ran included Robin Hood LLC, Robin Hood Holdings LLC, Robinhood LLC, and Robinhood Holdings LLC.

Prosecutors contend that instead of using investors’ money as intended, Fackrell enriched himself in what North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall has described as “one of the most vicious financial crimes” the state has seen.

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Minnesota-Based Investment Adviser Gets Six-Year Jail Term
According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Levi David Lindemann was ordered to serve a 74-month prison sentence—that’s six years—for bilking clients in a Ponzi scam.  Lindemann owned Gershwin Financial, which did business using the name Alternative Wealth Solutions. He pleaded guilty to money laundering and federal mail fraud charges.

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said that Lindemann abused his position as a financial adviser when he defrauded clients, including older investors. He did this by promising to invest their funds in safe investments but instead used their money to make Ponzi-type payments to clients and pay for his own expenses.

Lindemann’s guilty plea states that he solicited money from about 50 investors. He attempted to hide the securities fraud by generating fake secured notes as supposed evidence of the clients’ investments. The SEC permanently barred him from the securities industry earlier this year.

SEC Accuses Barred Broker of Selling Securities to Older Investors 

According to the SEC, ex-Morgan Stanley (MS) broker Rafael Calleja solicited $2.7M from 10 retiree and elderly investors after he had already been barred from the securities industry. The regulator claims that Calleja told investors their principal was insured and they would get a fixed return rate in a year. Meantime, he allegedly used at least $12K of their funds to pay for cruises, golf outings, and other personal expenses. He also purportedly failed to tell investors that his broker license had been revoked.

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The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has charged Stephen S. Eubanks over his alleged involvement in a Ponzi scam. According to state securities regulator William F. Galvin, the former investment adviser took at least $529K from 15 investors, including neighbors, friends, and their families. Four of the investors were Massachusetts investors who gave $195K of the funds.
According to the state’s complaint, in 2011, Eubanks allegedly pretended he was a successful hedge fund manager who ran Eubiquity Capital LLC. He solicited investors to get them to invest their money in options, stocks, and other securities. However, instead of investing their funds, he allegedly used $145K for his own expenses, including trips to Martha’s Vineyard and to cover boat costs, and $140K to pay back earlier investors.
Galvin’s notice said that Eubanks lost all of the investors’ money. Many of the investors were close friends of Eubanks, including an ex- college roommate and the older father of a former fraternity brother. He befriended the other investors online.

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The estate of Stanley Chais has agreed to pay the victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scam $277M to settle claims accusing Chais, a Beverly Hills manager, of enriching himself through the fraud while costing thousands of investors, including his own clients, money.
Chais was one of Madoff’s oldest friends and one of his earliest investors. When the multi-billion dollar scam failed eight years ago, however, Chais claimed he had been fooled by Madoff, too, and that he knew nothing about the fraud. Yet he and his estate have since been the subject of securities fraud cases related to the Madoff Ponzi scam for years. Chais died in 2010.
Now, his estate has agreed to pay Madoff trustee Irving Picard over $262M, as well as $15M to California’s attorney general to settle a class action case. Picard had accused Chais and his wife Pamela, as well as entities under their control, of allegedly making about $1B from bogus securities transactions conducted by Madoff’s firm. Chais also earned hundreds of millions of dollars as a money manager for sending his customers’ money into Bernard Madoff’s financial firm.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has banned Stuart G. Dickinson, a Dallas broker, from the securities industry for recommending that customers back a Ponzi scam. At the time, Dickinson was with  WFG Investments. The firm fired him in 2013.

In addition to the bar, Dickinson must pay seven customers $924K in restitution over the Texas securities fraud. According to FINRA’s default decision notice, Dickinson failed to perform the reasonable due diligence on ATM Financial services (ATMF) and did not detect the red flags indicating that it was a sham. As a result, said the self-regulatory organization, investors lost $1.02M.

It was in 2007 that Dickinson sold over $1M in limited partnership interests in ATM Alliance. He had formed contracts with the company to service and manage ATM machines in a number of locations. Dickinson established a general partnership to raise funds for the ATM investments and he became a 90% owner while his supervisor Trent W. Schneiter became a 5% owner. As part of the agreement, they would earn 20% off what the banking machines made.

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 SEC Charges Hawaii-Based Investment Adviser for Misleading Clients and Cherry Picking
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against Oracle Investment Research, which is based in Hawaii, and its owner Laurence I. Balter. The regulator claims that the investment adviser cherry picked trades that were profitable for his own accounts. He is also accused is  misleading clients, including senior citizens, about the risks involved in the investments he recommended, as well as about the fees they would be charged.
According to the SEC Enforcement Division, Balter and Oracle Investment Research bought options and equities in an omnibus account but waited to distribute the trades until their execution. Then, he would allegedly move the profitable trades into his accounts and the unprofitable ones to the accounts of clients. 

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered Medical Capital Holdings, related companies, and a number of executives to pay $831M of disgorgement. The disgorgement comes seven years after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought its securities fraud case against Medical Capital over its billion-dollar Ponzi scam.

The allegations eventually forced dozens of mid- and small-sized independent brokerage firms that sold Medical Capital private placements, among other deals that failed, to shut down in the wake of the slew of investor securities fraud cases that followed. Nearly 9,000 investors were owed about $1.08B from the Ponzi scam.

Medical Capital raised over $2B through its independent brokerage firm network from ’03 and ’09. The money was supposedly going toward the purchase of discounted medical receivables, payment of general operating expenses, and loans that were secured.

The private placement offerings promised 8.5-10.5% yearly returns. Meantime, Medical Capital made almost $325M in administrative fees.

Investors, alleging fraud, unsuitability, and misrepresentation, have since recovered $432M, including what was recovered and given out by a court appointed receiver, $101M from brokerage firms, and $180M from banks or bond indenture trustees. Investors who got money back were paid 40 cents on the dollar.

In June, ex-Medical Capital Holdings COO and president Joseph Lampariello was sentenced to 10 years and a month behind bar. He also was told to pay almost $40M to investors that were harmed. Lampariello is accused of misappropriating money from investors to pay other investors, as well as issuing administrative fees to himself.

Our private placement fraud lawyers represent investors in getting their investment losses back from negligent firms, brokers, investment advisers, and others in the industry. Your initial consulation with Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP is a free, no obligation session. We work with investors throughout the US and with investors based abroad who have been defrauded by US-based financial firms.

Medical Capital Ponzi scheme case ends with $432 man recovered, Reuters, August 22, 2016

Securities Cases: Medical Capital Executive To Pay Almost $40M for Private Placement Fraud, Momentum Investment Partners Accused of Not Disclosing Fees, and First Mortgage Corp. Settles Mortgage Fraud Claims, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 22, 2016

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office has issued a statement announcing that Patrick E. Churchville, the president and owner of ClearPath Wealth Management, will plead guilty to one count of tax fraud and numerous counts of wire fraud related to the running a $21M Ponzi scam. According to prosecutors, Churchville also used $2.5M of investor money to buy a house and neglected to pay over $820K of his federal income taxes.

Court documents report that a federal probe determined that from ‘08 through October ’11 the Rhode Island investment adviser and his firm invested about $18M in JER Receivables on behalf of investors. The government said that in 6/10, Churchville found out that the investments were no longer rendering returns and that ClearPath had been the subject of misleading and fraudulent representations by JER principals. However, instead of notifying clients that he lost millions of dollars of their money, he tried to hide the losses while continuing to collect investment fees.

As a result, Churchville misappropriated about $21M of investor money, misusing their funds while bringing in money from new investors. For example, he used investor money to repay JER investors while pretending that the funds were investment returns. He also lied when he told investors that past investments with JER Receivables had resulted in high return rates.

The government’s probe, conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and the IRS Criminal Investigation, also found that Churchville set up a scam in which he used investor money as collateral and, without their permission, used the funds to help him get $2.5M to buy a home. He did not report that money as income on his personal tax returns, hence the more than $820K nonpayment of his taxes.

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