News and Articles

Monthly Archives: March 2013

SEC Shuts Down Real Estate Investment Scheme in Redondo Beach

On March 12, 2013, the SEC announced charges and an emergency asset freeze against a Redondo Beach, California, resident and his companies for defrauding seniors and other investors in a real estate investment scheme.

The SEC alleged that Alvin R. Brown raised more than $3 million from investors who were falsely promised high profits for investing in his companies that were purportedly funding commercial and residential rental properties in California and other western states. Brown and his companies – First Choice Investment and Advanced Corporate Enterprises (ACorp) – instead used investor funds to make Ponzi-like payments to pre-existing investors, and Brown routinely withdrew cash for personal use. The ACorp website prominently displayed the seals of the SEC and the State of California as well as the NYSE, NASDAQ, and the Better Business Bureau to falsely imply to investors that these investments were endorsed by these organizations. In reality, the investment offerings were not registered with the SEC.

According to the SEC’s complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Brown particularly targeted an elderly investor suffering from a stroke and dementia. After the investor made a $30,000 initial investment, his daughter advised ACorp to stop contacting her father because she had power of attorney, but Brown nonetheless e-mailed him forms to close his brokerage account and move the money to an IRA account that would then invest in ACorp. The investor’s daughter replied to Brown again to remind him that she had power of attorney and he should cease-and-desist from contacting her father. But ACorp eventually succeeded in circumventing the daughter to get the investor’s signature as well as an additional $45,000 investment. The investor’s daughter requested the return of her father’s money, but it was never returned.

The SEC alleged  that Brown and First Choice lured investors beginning in January 2011 by falsely promising 10 percent annual returns and a planned initial public offering (IPO) at the end of 2012 that would net investors 150 percent of their original investment. They touted Brown’s management experience but failed to disclose to investors that he had twice filed for personal bankruptcy. Brown also falsely stated that ACorp’s assets guaranteed the investments and misled investors into believing their money was safe and secure.

The Commission’s complaint alleged that Brown, ACorp, and First Choice violated Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder; and seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, appointment of a permanent receiver, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and financial penalties, against each of them.

FINRA Bars Florida Broker for Unsuitable Recommendations and Unapproved Securities Transactions Involving 31 NFL Players

On March 7, 2013, FINRA announced that it had barred broker Jeffrey Rubin of Lighthouse Point, Florida, from the securities industry for making unsuitable recommendations to his customer, an NFL player. The recommendations related to a now-bankrupt casino in Alabama. As a result, the customer lost approximately $3 million. Based on Rubin’s referrals, 30 other NFL players also invested in the casino project and lost approximately $40 million. Rubin also failed to obtain the required approval from his employers to participate in the securities transactions involving the casino.

Rubin operated a Florida-based company, Pro Sports Financial, which provided financial-related “concierge” services to professional athletes for an annual fee. Between March 2006 and June 2008, while he was registered as a broker with Lincoln Financial Advisors Corporation and Alterna Capital Corporation, Rubin recommended that one of his NFL clients invest a total of $3.5 million, the majority of his liquid net worth, in four high-risk securities. Rubin recommended and facilitated the largest investment, $2 million, in the Alabama casino project without informing his employer member firm or receiving the firm’s approval of this activity.

Rubin referred other investors to the casino project while employed by Alterna Capital Corporation and International Assets Advisory, LLC without the firms’ knowledge or approval. FINRA found that from approximately January 2008 through March 2011, 30 additional clients of Rubin’s concierge firm, all NFL players, invested approximately $40 million in the casino project. Rubin received a 4 percent ownership stake and $500,000 from the project promoter for these referrals.

In settling this matter, Rubin neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings.

Any investor interested in speaking with a securities attorney may contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL 33324. By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.