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The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that it has filed a complaint and obtained a court order concerning the aforementioned financial entities, halting an ongoing “Ponzi-like” scheme that raised more than $345 million from over 230 investors.
From at least 2013 to present, operators of Rhino and the other Defendants operated this Ponzi-like scheme that involved, among other things, securities offerings rife with misrepresentations, fake debt, forged signatures, fabricated wire transfers, the movement of millions of dollars into personal accounts, and an elaborate scheme wherein Defendants offered and sold investments in the same (and often fictitious) debt and/or debt portfolios, to multiple victims
The SEC alleges that Kevin B. Merrill, Jay B. Ledford and Cameron Jezierski attracted investors to their scheme by promising significant profits from the purchase and resale of consumer debt portfolios. Merrill, 53, is from Towson, Maryland; Ledford, 54, lives in Westlake, Texas and Las Vegas; and Jezierski, 28, lives in Fort Worth, Texas.
Of the $345 million raised, more than $90 million was invested by over 200 individual investors; approximately $52 million by family offices; and nearly $203 million by feeder funds, largely made up of groups of individuals.
Many of these investments came in by the way of “feeder” funds. The operators of these funds had duties to conduct adequate due diligence to verify the veracity of the representations of the investment offer. Investment professionals have duties to their investors. Among these are an obligation that an investment is suitable for any investor.