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This is a photo of the National Register of Historic Places listing with reference number 7000063

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SEC CONTINUES TO INVESTIGATE FRAUD

The following information was presented on the SEC website. The information is regarding a case of securities fraud. The SEC is bringing charges of securities fraud against family members who managed a hedge fund based in Florida. This is a follow-up to the charges brought against Arthur G. Nadel last year.

“Washington, D.C., Jan. 11, 2010 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged two Sarasota, Fla.-based investment advisers with securities fraud for misleading investors about the financial condition of three hedge funds they managed, and misrepresenting that they controlled the funds' investment and trading activities when in fact they were being handled by Arthur G. Nadel.

The SEC alleges that Neil V. Moody and his son, Christopher D. Moody, distributed offering materials, account statements, and newsletters to investors that misrepresented the hedge funds' historical investment returns and overstated their asset values by as much as $160 million. The Moody’s based their materials on grossly overstated performance numbers that Nadel created and provided to them. The Moodys failed to independently verify the accuracy of the figures despite multiple red flags, and relied exclusively on Nadel’s inaccurate information when communicating with investors.

The SEC last year obtained an emergency court order to freeze his assets.
"The Moodys led investors to believe that they were faithfully managing funds invested with them," said Glenn S. Gordon, Associate Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. "Instead, they abdicated their responsibilities to investors and ignored warning signs that should have alerted them to the fraud that was occurring all around them."

According to the SEC's complaint, filed in federal court in Tampa, Fla., Neil and Christopher Moody disseminated misleading materials to investors about their hedge funds Valhalla Investment Partners L.P., Viking IRA Fund LLC, and Viking Fund LLC from at least 2003 through December 2008.
The SEC's complaint further alleges that the Moodys misled investors regarding their role in managing the assets of the three hedge funds by claiming that they controlled all of the investment and trading decisions. In truth, under an arrangement that the Moodys had with Nadel, he controlled nearly all of the funds’ investment and trading activities with no meaningful supervision or oversight by the Moodys.

In its complaint against the Moodys, the SEC seeks permanent injunctions, financial penalties, and disgorgement of illegal gains. Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, the Moodys have consented to permanent injunctions against future securities fraud violations. The Moodys also consented to the entry of a Commission order that will bar them for five years from associating with any investment adviser.”

Saturday, March 27, 2010

GETTING SEMINAR PONZIED BY FAKE ESTATE PLANNERS

Below is an excerpt from the SEC web site which outlines an alleged Ponzi Scheme committed by some very smooth operators. This story has the real smell of a con complete wining and dining potential victims and with lying about investments and even about having an MBA. Please read the following excerpt regarding the Estate Planning Seminar Con:

"SEC Halts Ponzi Scheme Preying on Retirees Attending Estate Planning Seminars
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2010-37
Washington, D.C., March 10, 2010 — The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order to shut down a Ponzi scheme targeting retirees in California and Illinois by inviting them to estate planning seminars and later coaxing them to buy promissory notes for purported Turkish investments.

The SEC alleges that USA Retirement Management Services (USARMS) and managing partners Francois E. Durmaz and Robert C. Pribilski mass-mailed promotional materials to prospective investors and invited them to estate planning seminars held at country clubs and banquet halls. They gained retirees' confidence in follow-up meetings and portrayed themselves as educated and experienced in foreign investments specifically tailored to the needs of seniors. Durmaz and Pribilski then pitched what they represented as safe, guaranteed investments in "Turkish Eurobonds" through the purchase of USARMS promissory notes that would earn annual returns between 8 and 11 percent.

The SEC alleges that USARMS raised at least $20 million from more than 120 investors, but did not actually invest the money in Turkish Eurobonds as promised. Instead, returns were paid to earlier investors with funds received from new investors in Ponzi-like fashion. Durmaz and Pribilski further misused investor funds to finance their other businesses and purchase such things as luxury automobiles, homes, vacations, and web-based pornography. They also wired investor money into bank accounts belonging to individuals living in Turkey who are named as relief defendants in the SEC's case.

"Durmaz and Pribilski used estate planning seminars as a means to elicit investor trust and lure retirees into investing in a classic Ponzi scheme," said Rosalind R. Tyson, Director of the SEC's Los Angeles Regional Office.

USARMS and its securities are not registered with the SEC. USARMS is incorporated in Illinois and has offices in Los Angeles; Irvine, Calif.; and Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Durmaz resides in Los Angeles and Streamwood, Ill., and Pribilski resides in Lisle, Ill. Neither of them is registered with the SEC in any capacity nor do they hold any securities licenses.

According to the SEC's complaint, filed on March 9 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Durmaz and other USARMS employees provided seminar attendees a general presentation on estate planning and later sent them a letter inviting them to their offices for a personal consultation "to explain the amazing steps you must take when you set up a Living Trust or Will."

The SEC alleges that once seminar attendees went to their estate planning appointments, Durmaz examined their personal financial information and told prospective investors that they had issued hundreds of millions of dollars in USARMS promissory notes. In addition, Durmaz falsely claimed that he held a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and was a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Thus, prospective investors were led to believe that Durmaz was educated and experienced in investments specifically tailored to the needs of seniors and retirees."

The above allegations of the SEC demonstrates again how widespread fraud exists all over the investment community. Ponzi schemes have been around for generations but, crooks seem to love to use them over and over again.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

EXECUTIVES CHARGED WITH ENRICHING CEO WITH PERKS

The following excerpt of information was gathered from the SEC webpage. It shows how easily executives can drain a company of money leaving shareholders, employees and creditors to suffer great losses. Please read the following excerpt:
2010-39
Washington, D.C., March 15, 2010 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged three former senior executives and a former director of an Omaha-based database compilation company for their roles in a scheme in which the CEO funneled illegal compensation to himself in the form of perks worth millions of dollars.

The SEC alleges that Vinod Gupta, the former CEO and Chairman of infoUSA Inc. and infoGROUP Inc. (Info), fraudulently used corporate funds to pay almost $9.5 million in personal expenses to support his lavish lifestyle. He additionally caused the company to enter into $9.3 million of undisclosed business transactions between Info and other companies in which he had a personal stake.

The SEC also charged the former chairman of Info's audit committee, Vasant H. Raval, and two of the company's former chief financial officers, Rajnish K. Das and Stormy L. Dean, for enabling Gupta to carry out the scheme.
Gupta stole millions of dollars from Info shareholders by treating the company like it was his personal ATM," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "Other corporate officers also abused their positions of trust by looking the other way instead of standing up for investors and bringing the scheme to a halt."

Donald M. Hoerl, Director of the SEC's Denver Regional Office, added, "Officers and directors must ensure that shareholders receive accurate and complete disclosure of all compensation paid to executives. Raval, as chairman of the audit committee, neglected these duties and allowed the money to flow to Gupta unbeknownst to investors."

The SEC's complaints, filed in federal district court in Nebraska, allege that from 2003 to 2007, Gupta improperly used corporate funds for more than $3 million worth of personal jet travel for himself, family, and friends to such destinations as South Africa, Italy, and Cancun. He also used investor money to pay $2.8 million in expenses related to his yacht; $1.3 million in personal credit card expenses; and other costs associated with 28 club memberships, 20 automobiles, homes around the country, and three personal life insurance policies. The SEC also alleges that Gupta failed to inform Info's other board members of the material fact that he had purchased shares of an Info acquisition target for his own ill-gotten financial benefit.

The SEC alleges that Raval failed to respond appropriately to various red flags concerning Gupta's expenses and Info's related party transactions with Gupta's other entities. Two Info internal auditors raised concerns to Raval that Gupta was submitting requests for reimbursement of personal expenses, yet Raval failed to take meaningful action to further investigate the matter and he omitted critical facts in a report to the board concerning Gupta's expenses.

The SEC further alleges that Das and Dean allowed Gupta to support his lavish lifestyle by rubber-stamping hundreds of his expense reimbursement requests. Das and Dean approved Gupta's expense reimbursement requests despite the fact that the requests lacked sufficient explanation of business purpose and supporting documentation, even in the face of concerns raised by several Info employees. Das and Dean also signed management representation letters to Info's outside auditor falsely representing that all related party transactions with Gupta's entities had been properly recorded and disclosed in Info's financial statements.

Gupta, Raval, and Info agreed to settle the SEC's charges without admitting or denying the allegations against them.

Gupta agreed to pay disgorgement of $4,045,000, prejudgment interest of $1,145,400, and a penalty of $2,240,700. He consented to an order barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company, and placing restrictions on the voting of his Info common stock. Gupta consented to a final judgment enjoining him from violations of Sections 10(b), 13(b)(5), and 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5, 13a-14, 13b2-1, 13b2-2, 14a-3, and 14a-9 and from aiding and abetting Info's violations of Exchange Act Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) and Rules 13a-1, 13a-13, and 12b-20.

Raval agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty and consented to an order barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years. He also consented to a final judgment enjoining him from violations of Exchange Act Sections 10(b) and 14(a) and Rules 10b-5, 14a-3, and 14a-9, and from aiding and abetting Info's violations of Exchange Act Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) and Rules 12b-20 and 13a-1.

Info consented to the issuance of an Order Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings Pursuant to Section 21C of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Making Findings, and Imposing a Cease-and-Desist Order without admitting or denying any of the findings in the SEC's order. The Order orders Info to cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violations of Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), 13(b)(2)(B), and 14(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, 13a-13, 14a-3, and 14a-9.

The SEC's case against Das and Dean is ongoing. They are charged with violating Exchange Act Sections 10(b), 13(b)(5), and 14(a), and Rules 10b-5, 13a-14, 13b2-1, 13b2-2, 14a-3, and 14a-9, and for aiding and abetting Info's violations of Exchange Act Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B), and Rules 12b-20 and 13a-1. Additionally, Das is charged with violating Exchange Act Rule 13a-13. The Commission's complaint seeks permanent injunctions, financial penalties, prejudgment interest, and an officer and director bar against both defendants.

http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2010/2010-39.htm
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