Articles Posted in Securities Fraud

NJ Investment Adviser Accused of Stealing Over $1M from Clients
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought investment adviser fraud charges against Scott Newsholme, a New Jersey-based financial adviser and tax preparer, accusing him of stealing over $1M from clients so he could support his lifestyle and support his gambling. According to the regulator, Newsholme generated fake account statements and “doctored stock certificates and forged promissory notes.”

Prosecutors have filed a parallel criminal case against him. Rather than invest clients’ funds in different securities as promised, Newsholme allegedly went to a check-cashing store to cash their checks and then kept their money for himself to cover his own expenses and gambling activities, as well as make Ponzi-like payments to the clients who wanted their money back.

Radio Host Accused of Stealing Millions of Dollars in Concert Ticket Scheme
Craig Carton, a sports radio host, is accused of running a concert ticket scam to bilk investors. According to the SEC’s complaint, he and Joseph Meli, another man whom the regulator had already filed charges against earlier this year, touted blocks of face value tickets to concert performances that were in demand and promised investors high returns that would come from ticket resales and their accompanying price markups.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is barring Jaime R. Rodriguez, an ex-HSBC Securities (HSBC) broker, in the wake of a charge accusing him of bilking an older customer, who is also legally blind, of $200K. HSBC fired Rodriguez in 2014.

Rodriguez is accused of using about $70K of the client’s money in 2012 to buy an apartment that was supposed to be for the customer. However, because the man couldn’t read or see the documents related to the purchase, he did not know that Rodriguez had named himself as the sole beneficial owner.

According to InvestmentNews, Rodriguez met the man in 2010 and began helping him with his errands. Also in 2012, Rodriguez purportedly recommended to the client that they set up a joint account together so that the then-HSBC broker could assist him in paying his bills. The account was opened using about $42K of the client’s money and at one point it held $153K.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against ex-financial adviser Dawn Bennett accusing her of bilking investors, making Ponzi-like payments, and spending clients’ funds on herself. According to the regulator, Bennett and her DJB Holdings LLC raised over $200M through the sale of notes issued to at least 46 investors by the luxury sports apparel company. Many of her victims were unsophisticated and older investors.

During the sales, Bennett allegedly claimed that the notes were safer than they actually were, as well as that her firm could pay yearly returns of up to 15%. Investors were purportedly told that their money would go toward company use but instead she paid back earlier investors in a Ponzi-like manner and used some of the funds to pay for her expenses. Meantime, contends the SEC’s complaint, Bennett hid the alleged fraud, lied to regulators, used sham promissory notes instead of actual convertible notes, and inflated her net worth.

Now, the Commission has charged Bennett and her company with violations of the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The regulator wants disgorgement, interest, and penalties for the alleged senior financial fraud.

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Federal Judge Orders Tim Durham to Pay $1. 3M in Securities Fraud Case

Five years after he was convicted of securities fraud, businessman Tim Durham has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $1.3M in the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil case against him. Durham bilked over 5,000 investors in his Ponzi Scam involving his company Fair Finance. He is serving 50 years behind bars.

The Commission had wanted the judge to order Durham to pay back over $200M in ill-gotten gains. Instead, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ordered him to pay a $130K penalty for each criminal conviction, of which there were 10. After Fair Finance shut down in 2009, its bankruptcy trustee repaid investors $18M.

Ex-ArthroCare CEO is Convicted in $750M Scam For a Second Time
Michael Baker, the ex-CEO of ArthroCare Corp., has been convicted once again in a $750M securities fraud. An earlier conviction for the same scheme was vacated last year by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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A new survey conducted by the North American Securities Administrators Association found that there was been an increase in senior financial fraud incidents, with 97% of incidents going unreported until serious harm has occurred. The survey respondents, all state securities regulators, noted a 29% rise in complaints or cases involving older investors who were bilked or exploited.

The Pulse Survey took place between July 24 to August 4, 2017. Among other findings:

· Three-fourth of regulators that put into effect the Model Act to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation were able to stop funds from going to fraudsters who had targeted older investors.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought investment adviser against Jeremy Joseph Drake. He is accused of bilking a known professional athlete and his wife, making about $900K in compensation in the process. At the time of the purported financial fraud, Drake worked with HCR Wealth Advisers.

According to the regulator’s complaint, the couple entrusted over $35M of their assets to Drake to manage. As their investment adviser, he owed them a judiciary obligation.

The investment adviser fraud allegedly went on for over three years, during which time he allegedly told the couple that they were receiving a .15 to .20% fee rate on assets under management when they were actually paying a 1% fee. As a result, the athlete and his wife ended up paying $1.2M more in management fees than what they were told they had paid.

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Jason Galanis, an ex-investment banker, who is already serving eleven years behind bars for stock rigging, has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraud involving a Native American tribal bond. He must forfeit over $43M and pay nearly $44M of restitution.

In the tribal bond scam, Galanis and his father John Galanis are accused of convincing Oglala Sioux Tribe affiliate Wakpamni Lake Community Corp. of issuing $60M in municipal bonds. The two of them and others then misappropriated the proceeds from the bonds, including $8.5M for Jason personally. Meantime, bond investors were left with worthless securities while the tribal corporation had no means of paying the interest payments that it owed on the bonds.

According to the prosecution, the bond scam bilked Galanis’ tribal bond clients and the investing public while “defrauding the Native American tribe into issuing bonds.” Galanis and his co-conspirators sold the bonds, which were illiquid, to pension funds, and stole the profits. Meantime, they allegedly hid conflicts of interest and the fact that the bonds were not liquid.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against four former brokers for allegedly persuading federal employees to roll over holdings from federal retirement accounts into variable annuity products that charged higher fees. Their targets were Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) participants. The plan is administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which is an independent government agency.

According to the regulator’s broker fraud case, then-brokers Jonathan Cooke, Christopher Laws, Brandon Long, and Danny Hoode promoted the VA products under the Federal Employee Benefits Counselors because they wanted the high commissions. Their alleged victims were federal employees who were 59 ½ years of age and older and with TSP account holdings that could be moved over into variable annuities, tax-free, in certain plans at annuity carriers.

Ex-Brokers Made High Commissions From the Alleged Elder Investor Fraud

Businessman Accused of Taking Investors’ Money That Was Supposed to Go Toward Fighting Cancer
In a complaint brought by the SEC, the regulator has filed securities fraud charges against Patrick Muraca, a Massachusetts businessmen, accusing him of misappropriating investments that were supposed to go toward helping to develop cancer diagnostic tests. Instead, Muraca, who raised almost $1.2M through MetaboRX LLC and NanoMolecularDX LLC, allegedly transferred $400K of these funds to pay the rent of his fiancées restaurant businesses as well as for other purchases.

Now, the regulator is charging Muraca and his companies with Securities Act of 1933, Section 17(a) violations and Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 violations. The SEC wants disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, interest, and penalties.

Meantime, prosecutors have brought related criminal charges against Muraca.

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Haena Park, the Harvard-educated financier who pleaded guilty to the commodities fraud that bilked over 40 investors of more than $23M, is sentenced to three years in prison. Park defrauded friends and family over six years, beginning in 2008, by soliciting investments in different commodities and securities, including equities, futures, and forex transactions.

Even after she lost investors’ money, Park continued to solicit new investors, claiming up to 50% yearly returns and generating false monthly statements that concealed the large losses. Among her victims were immigrants who worked multiple jobs, older investors who saw their life savings disappear, and a paraplegic who suffered $4M in investment losses.

After Park pleaded guilty early this year, then-US Attorney Preet Bharara said that Park was not just admitting to the fraud, but also acknowledging that she lied about her trading expertise, as well as return rates, to draw in investors.

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