Articles Posted in SEC Enforcement

SEC Accuses Atlanta Man of Misusing Over $1.2M in Investor Funds

In an enforcement action, the US Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing Timothy S. Batchelor of misusing over $1.2M in investor monies. The funds were supposed to go toward the development of a submarine vessel and to businesses involved in national security.

According to the regulator’s complaint, of the $2.4M that Batchelor raised from investors through the Specter Ventures Fund II, he improperly spent half of the money, including almost $250K to buy new cars and about $225K to cover student loans. He allegedly moved thousands of dollars in investor monies to his own relatives. Batchelor also is accused of trying to conceal his actions by faking a document that misrepresented unauthorized expenditures as a loan.

In the criminal case brought against them, two ex-Morgan Stanley (MS) investment advisers, James S. Polese and Cornelius Peterson, have pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against them. Polese was charged with conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, investment adviser fraud, and multiple counts of bank fraud. Peterson is charged with conspiracy, investment adviser fraud, and bank fraud.

In a parallel civil case, the US Securities and Exchange Commission claims that beginning in 2014, the two men defrauded three clients of almost half a million dollars. The allegations include:

*Stealing almost $450K from one client and using the funds to make their own investments and pay for Polese’s credit card bills and the college tuition of his children.
*Using a client’s assets to obtain loan financing for an entity in which they were investors.
*Investing client monies in a venture in which they both had a financial stake without telling the client.
*Getting a loan with unfavorable terms for a client.
*Charging one client advisory fees that were 50% more than what he told her they would be.

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The SEC has put a stop to Dallas-based AriseBank’s initial coin offering. The regulator contends that AriseBank, which touts itself as the first “decentralized bank” in the world, and its principals are committing Texas financial fraud, and they’ve targeted retail investors, including Texas investors, in an effort to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, the Commission has a court order to stop the sale of AriseCoin cryptocurrency, which it says are unregistered investments. The regulator called the ICO an “illegal offering” of said securities and it accused the company of engaging in an “outright” scam.

AriseBank reportedly sought to raise $1B during its ICO, which began in late December and was scheduled to end later month. Investors were supposed to receive their distributions on February 10.

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Woodbridge to Appoint New Board to Run the Property Developer, Will Pay for Investor Fraud Lawyers
Woodbridge Group of Companies and the US Securities and Exchange Commission have come to an agreement that a New Board of Managers will be appointed to oversee the bankrupt property developer. The company, which is accused of running a $1.2B Ponzi scam, will pay for legal representation for its investors that continue to grapple with losses they may have sustained in the alleged fraud. Some 8,400 investors gave their money to Woodbridge.

Woodbridge owner Robert Shapiro is accused of owing over $961M to investors, many of them elderly investors, who purchased securities from the company while under the impression that they’d be guaranteed up to 8% interest. Investors were told that their money would be lent out to companies in exchange for up to 15% interest when, in fact, contends the SEC, these developers were entities that Shapiro himself controlled.

Shapiro, who is accused of taking at least $21M of investors’ funds to pay for his lavish lifestyle, denies the SEC’s allegations.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered the suspension trading in UBI Blockchain Internet Ltd.(UBIA) stock. The company’s stock rose over 900% last year in the wake of the popularity of digital currencies.

Now, the SEC has temporarily halted the sale and purchase of UBI BLockChain stock because of market activity that it describes as “unusual and unexplained” since at least November of last year involving the company’s Class A common stock.

It also has questions regarding the accuracy of claims that the company made in financial statements. Addressing the SEC’s move, UBI Blockchain CEO Tony Liu contended that his company, which touts blockchain technology, is not the same as bitcoin companies.

UBI Blockchain, which is based in Hong Kong, claims that it wants to utilize the decentralized-ledge technology of blockchain so that consumers can track the “original source” of a drug or food product. Two weeks ago, in a 3-to-1 trading split, the company’s market value hit over $1B. It’s current market value is more than $800M.

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The SEC has filed a case accusing broker Brian Hirsch of illegally receiving over $1M in secret kickbacks in return for giving some customers favored access to “lucrative” initial public offerings. The regulators said that these customers made money because of the special treatment. Meantime, prosecutors in New Jersey have filed a parallel criminal case against Hirsch.

According to the SEC, Hirsch, who worked at two broker-dealers, disregarded policies and procedures and made “long-running” deals with specific customers, granted them bigger allocations of some of the public offerings that the firms were marketing. Advisor Hub reports that these two brokerage firms were Barclays Capital (BARC) and Stifel (SF).

As part of the deal, contends the regulator, a customer named Joseph Spera and another customer paid Hirsch cash kickbacks that were equivalent to a percentage of the trading profits they made for the offering stock allocated to them. Hirsch is accused of giving the two customers “preferential access to hundreds of IPOS and secondary public offerings.” These customers purportedly would usually sell their stock quickly so that they could make a “substantial profit.” This was at the expense of the firms’ other customers and the interests of issuers in raising funds from long-term investors.

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Two Investment Advisers Accused of $20M Investor Scam
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against investment advisors Ronald A. Fossum and Alonzo Cahoon. They are accused defrauding retail investors in an unregistered securities scam. According to the regulator, from about 3/2011 to 6/2016, Fossum raised over $20M from more than 100 investors via securities offerings in investment funds under his control or ownership, including the:

  • Accelerated Asset Group, LLC
  • Turnkey Investment Fund, LLC
  • Smart Money Secured Income Fund, LLC

Fossum is accused of misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars of investors’ money to pay his own expenses, including living in a home owned by one of the fund’s free of rent. He also allegedly used investor funds to pay for international travel and federal taxes.

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The SEC has filed fraud charge against Behavioral Recognition Systems, Inc. and its former CEO Ray C. Davis. According to the Commission, the Houston-based technology company, and Davis solicited over $28M from hundreds of investors, diverting over $7.8M to the latter’s personal use.

Between 1/2013 and 7/2015, investors targeted in the alleged Texas securities scam were solicited for funds and their involvement in seven equity securities offerings. “Material misrepresentations and misleading statements” were allegedly made to them about: how investor proceeds would be used, executive compensation, operating costs, and related party transactions.

The regulator’s complaint, claims that Behavioral Recognition Systems and Davis lied more than once in order to get investors to give them their money. Offering documents claimed that investor money would go toward “working capital,” “growth, “mezzanine funding,” and “general corporate purposes” for Behavioral Recognition Systems. Instead, contends the SEC, Davis used shell companies under his control to divert about $11M of investor money for his own use–$7.8M of that money was allegedly diverted during the period at issue. Bogus invoices from the shell companies for services purportedly rendered were then generated to conceal the fraud.
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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed financial fraud charges against the Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC and its owner Robert H. Shapiro. The Woodbridge Group is comprised of unregistered investment companies. According to the regulator, Woodbridge and Shapiro ran a $1.2B Ponzi Scam that bilked over 8,400 investors, many of whom where older investors. At least 2,600 investors collectively spent close to $400M that came from their IRAs.

The civil fraud charges include other alleged federal securities law violations. The SEC also announced an asset freeze to keep more investor funds from dissipating. The regulator wants restoration of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus interest, as well as financial penalties.

Senior Financial Fraud
The Commission’s complaint accused Woodbridge and its owner of defrauding seniors using a “sham” business model that involved selling investments in unregistered Woodbridge funds. The company presented its main business as giving loans to third-party commercial property owners that were paying 11-15% in yearly interest for “’hard money’ short-term financing.” In fact, claims the SEC, the property owners were not third-parties but were companies belonging to Shapiro. Not only that but they had no income streams and never paid interest on these supposed loans. Woodbridge and Shapiro are said to have used investor money to buy nearly 200 commercial and residential properties in California and Colorado.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has placed a temporary halt on trading in The Crypto Company (CRCQ) stock until January 3, 2018. The company’s stock has just seen a 2,700 percent rise in price. It recently agreed to purchase a German cryptocurrency data platform called Coin Tracking E. K.

Citing concerns regarding “accuracy and adequacy,” the SEC expressed concerns about the quality of information that was given to investors. The regulator also is looking into whether “potentially manipulative transactions” involving the stock took place last month.

The Crypto Co. provides digital assets, consulting services, and technologies to the “blockchain and cryptocurrency markets.” It doesn’t sell cryptocurrencies or other digital-type monies. The Crypto Co.’s stock price, at $3.50 a share in late September, rose to $575 earlier this week. As a result, The Crypto Co.’s stock value is now over $11B—that’s more than the market worth of some of the most renowned companies in the US, including Macy’s.

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