Tag Archives: Ponzi

Mark Holt Loss Recovery

Mark Holt is a former stock broker currently serving a prison sentence for stealing the funds of his investors and sending false account documents.  The scheme victimized investors in Minnesota and likely elsewhere.  Due to the incarceration, investors seeking recovery will likely need to pursue Holt’s former employers by means of FINRA arbitration for loss recovery.

From August 2005 to February 2007, Holt was a registered representative of Geneos Wealth Management, Inc., which is both a securities brokerage and investment adviser. From February 2007 to November 2013, Holt was a registered representative of Harbour Investments, Inc., which is also a dually registered entity. Holt, 47 years old, is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin.

guy in handcuffsDetails of the SEC action can be found in its release.

On August 14, 2014, Holt was sentenced to a prison term of 120 months followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $2,940,982.75.  The chances of these payments being made is not great considering Holt could be incarcerated for much of the next ten years.

The allegations are that from about September 2005 through Jan. 12, 2014, Holt “knowingly caused an email communication to be transmitted in interstate commerce via servers in Texas to a client in Minnesota that would give the client access to false account statements.”

The SEC and the criminal documents state that Holt “misappropriated [investor] funds by depositing client checks into a bank account he controlled and using these funds to pay for personal and business expenses. In furtherance of his scheme, Holt lulled his clients into believing that he had purchased various investments for them by sending fraudulent Morningstar client summaries and [...] a web-based portal, that displayed fraudulent account balances.”

“Holt made monthly payments to his clients that were intended to appear as interest or annuity payments,” in a classic Ponzi-type scheme.

Kris Etter of IMS Securities

If you have suffered investment losses with Kris Etter of IMS Securities, particularly if you suffered losses in UDF, please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney.  We have suit filed against IMS and are currently investigating whether other claims may exist.

It is believed that Etter had an undisclosed conflict of interest in his recommendations of UDF.  Upon information and belief, Mr. Kris Etter sold a substantial amount of UDF to his clients and is the son of Todd Etter.  Todd Etter is the Chairman of UDF IV, one of the top officers of the company.  Mr. Todd Etter also serves as Chairman of the general partner of UDF I and UDF II and Executive Vice President of the general partner of UDF III.  This creates a substantial conflict of interest in UDF recommendations by Kris Etter.

Kris Etter and IMS also failed to properly investigate UDF before recommending it, likely because of the Etter conflict and the heightened commission paid by UDF.  IMS is one of the top four leading sellers of UDF IV in the United States.

The bottom fell out for UDF when it was revealed in December 2015 to be a Ponzi scheme. The offices were raided by the FBI, received a Wells notice, unable to release quarterly reports and was ultimately delisted for a time. Reasonable investigation into the investment of other financial firms revealed that the illegitimacy of the investment. Had IMS done sufficient due diligence it would have likewise discovered that the investment was not suitable for any investor. Instead, IMS and Etter turned a blind eye to the problems of UDF and instead focused on the profits that it was receiving from this high commission product.

The individual ultimately in charge of all IMS offices is the CEO of IMS, Jackie Wadsworth.  Ms. Wadsworth has seven customer complaints naming her for insufficient supervision of representatives under her oversight. These complaints largely concern the inappropriate recommendation by her representatives of unsuitable variable annuity and REIT investments, just like the investments sold clients of Kris Etter and IMS.

As reported in Investmentnews.com in August 2016, the balance sheet of IMS is tilted heavily toward high-commission products like variable annuities and non-traded REITs. Approximately 86% of its revenue of IMS in 2015 came from commissions from such products.

Tobin Joseph Senefeld

FINRA  has announced that  Tobin Joseph Senefeld, formerly of PIN Financial, a Carmel, Indiana brokerage firm owned by Veros Partners, has been barred from associating with any FINRA member institution, according to its monthly disciplinary report released last week. The sanction is related to a Securities and Exchange Commission suit that claimed Senefeld and two others operated a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme involving farm loans.

FINRAThe SEC case claimed the three raised $15 million from 80 investors in 2013 and 2014 to fund farm loans. New investor funds were used to pay older investors when the loans went bad.

Senefeld has a long history of misconduct.  The FINRA and SEC actions are just the latest of his legal problems.  The record of Senefeld contained on FINRA’s BrockerCheck indicates that Senefeld has 27 disclosure events dating back to 1997.

The prior misconduct of Senefeld, also known as “disclosure events,” include a substantial number of state regulatory actions, including the revocation of his license by Michigan in 2000 and other regulatory punishment by 16 other jurisdictions around the same time.  Senefeld also had a long history of tax liens, terminations, and civil suits initiated against him by other investors.

Co-defendants in the present SEC matter, Matthew D. Haab and Jeffrey B. Risinger, both have settled the civil suit for about $184,000 and $100,000, respectively. Senefeld and the SEC failed to reach a settlement at an in-person meeting Oct. 28, according to court filings, so Senefeld’s case remains on course for trial.

Senefeld, PIN and Risinger have all received lifetime bans from the securities industry by FINRA.

Platinum Partners

We are currently investigating losses suffered by investors in Platinum Partners.  If you have suffered losses please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney.

As reported on December 19, 2016 in the Wall Street Journal, top executives of hedge fund Platinum Partners were arrested Monday morning and will be charged with defrauding investors in one of the biggest such cases since Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.  The level of fraud is anticipated to approach or top $1 billion.

guy in handcuffsPlatinum previously reported more than $1 billion in assets under management.  This includes holdings scattered in eclectic investments like loans to bankrupt companies and thinly-traded pharmaceutical stocks. In form of a true Ponzi-type operation, Platinum boasted a performance track record with no down years for its funds.

The scheme targeted members of the Jewish community in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Texas.

The indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn charges Platinum founder and Chief Investment Officer Mark Nordlicht, co-chief investment officer David Levy, and former president Uri Landesman with counts of securities fraud, investment adviser fraud and conspiracy.

Authorities in New York said these Platinum executives and others falsely inflated the value of Platinum’s assets, allowing Platinum Partnersthe firm to collect a hefty cut of all investment gains and project a veneer of financial stability. In actuality, the firm’s investments were worth far less, and Platinum’s executives knowingly faked the performance figures, authorities said.

Charles Fackrell Fraud

If you were an investor with Charles Fackrell and believe you may be a victim of his fraud, or simply wish to know your rights, please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney.

LPLFackrell,  a former LPL adviser based in North Carolina, was sentenced by a federal court to more than five-years in prison for running a $1.4 million Ponzi scheme that operated under the name “Robin Hood.”

The former adviser pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud in April and was sentenced last week to 63 months in jail.

From May 2012 to December 2014, Fackrell ran his Ponzi fraud, misusing funds from at least 20 investors. He was a registered broker with LPL during that time.

Fackrell “used his position of trust to solicit victim investors and steer them away from legitimate investments to purported investments with” various “Robin Hood” named entities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. “These were entities [Mr.] Fackrell controlled and through which he could access the victim’s funds.”

Promising guaranteed annual returns of 5% to 7%, Mr. Fackrell “solicited his victim investors by making false and fraudulent representations, including that the investors’ money would be invested in, or secured by, gold and other precious metals,” according to the U.S. attorney. In fact, Mr. Fackrell spent only a fraction of investor money on such assets, the government claims, and diverted over $700,000 back to his investors in the fashion of a Ponzi scheme.

He used the balance of the money to cover personal expenditures, including hotel expenses, groceries and medical bills, and to make purchases at various retail shops and to make large cash withdrawals.

Information for this post was found at investmentnews.com.

Levi David Lindemann Ponzi Victims

Stock handcuffsAs reported in Investmentnews.com, Levi David Lindemann, a Minnesota-based investment adviser has received a six-plus-year prison sentence for stealing from clients and perpetuating a Ponzi scheme.

The 40-year-old adviser, Lindemann, was sentenced to 74 months in prison by a Minnesota federal court, after having pled guilty earlier this year to federal mail fraud and money-laundering charges.

Mr. Lindemann owned and operated Gershwin Financial Inc., which did business under the name Alternative Wealth Solutions, between 2009 and 2014.

“Lindemann abused his position of trust as a financial adviser to steal from his clients, including the elderly ” Mike Rothman, Minnesota’s commerce commissioner, said. “Lindemann defrauded his victims by promising to put their money in legitimate, safe investments when he actually used the funds to pay for personal expenses and Ponzi-type payments to other clients to cover up and continue his fraud.”

According to Mr. Lindemann’s guilty plea, he solicited funds from roughly 50 investors and said he would “use the invested funds to buy secured notes or other legitimate investment vehicles.”

If you are a victim of Lindemann or some other Ponzi scheme, please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to a private attorney on a free and confidential basis to discuss your rights in private litigation.

Brian Candler and Ari Financial

Please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to a lawyer if you suffered losses with Brian Candler or Ari Financial.  Ari Financial of Overland Park, Kansas and Candler of Leawood, Kansas have recently resolved regulatory actions against them concerning failures in the review and supervision of the investments sold.  Some of these investments were ultimately revealed to be Ponzi schemes, such as the investments in Bridgeport Oaks.  The regulatory settlement can be found at the following link.

Invest photo 2In summary, Ari Financial submitted an Offer of Settlement in which the firm was censured, fined $7,500 and, for a period of one year, must file with FINRA’s Advertising Regulation department all retail communications that the firm intends to permit its registered representatives to use or distribute at least 10 business days prior to use.  Candler was censured, fined $2,500, suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 10 business days, and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any principal capacity for 10 business days, to be served after the completion of the suspension in any capacity.

Without admitting or denying the allegations, the firm and Candler consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that Candler failed to conduct reasonable due diligence regarding a private placement that the firm sold directly to retail investors. The findings stated that as a result, the firm lacked a reasonable basis to believe that the private placement was suitable for any investor. The offering was later discovered to be a Ponzi scheme, and customers who purchased interests lost their collective investment principal of approximately $560,000.

The findings also stated that as a result of deficiencies in its supervisory system, the firm failed to identify and prevent the dissemination of misleading and imbalanced advertising and sales materials by registered brokers, and failed to ensure that the offering materials prepared and distributed contained sufficient and accurate disclosures. The findings also included that the firm failed to document the written approval of the advertising and sales material it used, and the first and last dates of use. FINRA found that Candler provided medallion signature guarantees for numerous pre-signed securities assignment forms without having the forms signed in his presence or otherwise verifying their authenticity Moreover, despite providing signature guarantees for numerous securities transfers, ARI and Candler had not previously established any supervisory system or written procedures for the firm’s medallion signature guarantee program.

Candler did not establish a supervisory system for the firm’s medallion signature guarantee program. Following the receipt of a complaint that Candler improperly provided signature guarantees in connection with certain securities transfers, he established deficient written supervisory procedures (WSPs) governing the firm’s activities as a guarantor. FINRA also found that the firm and Candler failed to retain and review certain securities business-related communications to and from its registered representatives, and failed to establish appropriate escrow accounts for contingent offerings. The firm’s WSPs did not include appropriate provisions to ensure that its standards regarding communications with the public were implemented and followed, and Candler did not enforce the WSPs that required it to preserve all business email. In addition, FINRA found that although the firm had WSPs that generally addressed the supervision of its private placement activities, they were often insufficiently tailored to the nature of its business and amounted to a supervisory system that was not reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.

Investor Recovery of Breitling Energy Losses

Investors in Breitling Energy may have lost their investment but are not without recourse to recover their losses.  The misdeeds and mismanagement of Breitling Energy are things that the investor’s brokerage should have spotted if sufficient due diligence was done.  Investors seeking more information can call toll-free 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation.

guy in handcuffsThe thinly veiled fraud was recently exposed by the SEC that reasonable investigation should have exposed previously.  The Breitling Energy fraud includes interlocking companies, bad science, fake financials and an massively effective public relations campaign that turned a tech entrepreneur with a shaky record, Breitling CEO Chris Faulkner, into the “Frack Master.”

But the complaint implies that the scheme that took years of planning and execution, but basic components of the fraud were easily discoverable, such as the background of Faulkner and the tens of millions of dollars stolen by Faulkner.

The SEC account starts in 2009 when Faulkner ran a website data hosting company. At that point, “he had never managed, run, operated, or even worked in an oil-and-gas business.”

Despite this, many brokerage firms either ignored this information or failed to uncover such an important piece of information for its investors.

The Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson, PC has helped investors recover losses for the failure of due diligence by securities brokerage firms.  Please call the number above for more information.

For more information on the Breitling Energy fraud see the following link.

Churchville Ponzi Scheme, Investment Fraud

If you were a victim of the Ponzi scheme or other investment fraud of Rhode Island investment adviser Patrick Churchville please call 1-866-817-0201.

Churchville has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges for orchestrating a $21 million Ponzi scheme, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Stock handcuffsAside from that scheme, Churchville, 47, also committed investment fraud when he used $2.5 million of investor funds to help purchase his home and failed to pay more than $820,000 in personal federal income taxes, according to the statement.

Churchville, the owner and president of ClearPath Wealth Management, will plead guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of tax fraud.

Churchville is also a party in a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in May 2015.

Between 2008 and 2011, Mr. Churchville invested approximately $18 million of client money in JER Receivables, although by June 2010 he had become aware that ClearPath had been defrauded by that company, according to the statement.

Instead of notifying his clients of the losses, Churchville,  paid them with money obtained from new investors, misappropriating around $21 million of investor funds in the process, the statement alleges. To help carry out his scheme, he told investors JER Receivables was producing high rates of return, according to the statement.

UDF Losses

If you invested in UDF, you have rights and should call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with a lawyer.

The FBI on Thursday, February 18, 2016 raided the Grapevine, TX, in suburban Dallas, offices of large real estate investment trust, United Development Funding IV (“UDF”).  Allegations have circulated that investors have suffered losses at UDF as the result of Ponzi activity.  Shares of UDF on that day toppled 54% before trading was stopped.

FBI

As of October 16, 2016,  United Development Funding IV (“UDF IV” or the “Trust”) released more bad news.  It announced in a press release that it received a written notification letter from NASDAQ indicating that the Nasdaq Hearings Panel (“Panel”) had determined to delist the shares of UDF iV from Nasdaq.  The Trust has not filed its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2015 (the “2015 Form 10-K”) and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31 and June 30, 2016 (the “2016 Forms 10-Q” and collectively with the 2015 Form 10-K, the “Reports”) by October 17, 2016, the deadline by which the Trust was to file all Reports in order to regain compliance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5250(c)(1).  This despite repeated assurances by the Trust to its investors that it would file such documents.

A disproportionate number of investors come from a small number of independent brokerages.  This could mean that the sale of the investment was influenced by inappropriate means, such as heightened commissions.  Many of the recommendations were also unsuitable, a fraudulent activity of recommending a security when the security is in contradiction to the wants and needs of the investor.

The brokerage firms we believe sold

Accordingly, the trade halt that has been in place since February 2016 will be converted to a trading suspension effective at the open of business on October 19, 2016.  While this suspension will occur at the open of business on October 19, 2016, the Trust currently plans to appeal the Panel’s determination to delist the Trust’s shares, although no assurance can be given regarding whether the Panel will grant the appeal or whether the appeal will ultimately be successful in preventing the delisting of the Trust’s shares.  As stated in the notification letter from Nasdaq, following the suspension of trading of the Trust’s shares on Nasdaq, the Trust’s shares may trade on the over-the-counter market.

On October 13, 2016, the Trust informed Nasdaq that it would be unable to meet the previously granted extended deadline of October 17, 2016 for filing the 2015 Form 10-K and the 2016 Forms 10-Q, as a result of the Trust’s auditors requiring more time to complete the audit.  In addition, the Trust informed Nasdaq that the Trust has received a “Wells Notice” from the staff (the “Staff”) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Division of Enforcement stating that the Staff has made a preliminary determination to recommend that the SEC file an enforcement action against the Trust alleging violations of certain provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Certain individuals associated with the Trust and its advisor also received similar Wells Notices.  A Wells notice is a notice from SEC regulators indicating that a preliminary investigation of UDF IV has recommended a likely enforcement action for violation of securities laws.

UDF has seen its stock price fall 81% in the months after a hedge fund alleged it was operating for years like a Ponzi scheme.

“The FBI is lawfully present and conducting law enforcement activity” at the UDF offices, said FBI spokeswoman Allison Mahan.

UDF has previously defended itself saying that the Ponzi charges are untrue and that it is the victim of individuals spreading rumors in hopes of shorting the REIT.   Claiming in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the REIT was the victim of this type of securities trading scheme known as a “short and distort.”  However, UDF also disclosed in December that it had been the subject of a fact-finding investigation by the SEC since April 2014.

The FBI’s presence at UDF headquarters further decimated the company’s share price, which fell  Thursday, February 18, to $3.20 per share after the FBI activity at company headquarters was reported. As recently as two months ago, UDF shares were trading at $17.20.

UDF IV had total assets of $684 million, the vast majority of which, $513.2 million, were notes receivable, according to its quarterly report from November. Notes receivable for related parties was $69.6 million, according to the report.

Earlier this month, hedge fund manager Kyle Bass revealed that he was shorting UDF. “UDF is using new investor money to pay existing investors,” he wrote. “UDF Management is misleading investors and is preying on ‘Mom and Pop’ retail investors.”

UDF investors should speak with an attorney to know their rights.

 

Sources for this report include Investmentnews.com and Wsj.com.