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Category Archives: SEC News

Former Aegis Capital Broker Surage Kamal Roshan Perera Charged With Fraud

On March 27, 2023, the SEC charged former broker Surage Kamal Roshan Perera and his firm, Janues Capital Incorporated, with defrauding at least one investor out of millions by lying about investment opportunities and strategies, concealing trading losses, and using funds received from others to give the victim the promised returns in Ponzi-like fashion. The SEC has obtained emergency relief in court, including a temporary restraining order and an asset freeze.

According to the SEC’s complaint, from February 2022 until March 2023, Perera, a Long Island, NY resident, falsely told an investor, not named in the complaint, that Janues had access to specific restricted securities at discounted prices though connections with large, institutional investors. He allegedly claimed to also exercise a trading strategy, which he referred to as ‘Options Straddles,’ that would not only prevent any trading losses but also guarantee returns on some of the investments of up to 9 percent with the potential for returns of 50 percent. According to the complaint, Perera and Janues misappropriated at least $3.5 million of the investor’s funds to engage in highly speculative and leveraged trading. In total, Perera engaged in more than $2.5 billion in securities transactions, with nearly $3 million in trading losses. Perera then allegedly concealed the misappropriation and losses by providing the investor with phony confirmations and account statements that falsely showed the expected returns. The complaint also alleges that Perera further attempted to hide the losses by using funds received from other sources to make Ponzi-like payments to the investor.

“As noted in our complaint, Perera and his firm Janues engaged in predatory and fraudulent behavior by claiming to have special access to securities through their professional connections, but instead defrauded millions of dollars from his investor,” said Antonia Apps, Director of the New York Regional Office. “We will continue to pursue individuals who prey upon retail investors and steal money from their clients.”

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Perera.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Perera and Janues violated antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. Perera also was charged with aiding and abetting Janues’ alleged violations. The SEC’s complaint names Nishani Alahakoon, whose brokerage account Perera and Janues traded, as a relief defendant. The asset freeze obtained by the SEC prevents any further dissipation of investor funds. The SEC is seeking permanent injunctions and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest and penalties.

If you were a victim of Mr. Perera, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A. at (800) 718-1422 to discuss possible representation.

South Florida Stockbroker Indicted and Charged With Stealing From Client

On January 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against German Nino, a former investment advisor with UBS Financial Services, Inc.

The SEC alleges that, over a period of 6 years, Nino stole approximately $5.8 million from an advisory client. The client invested $11 million with UBS through Nino. He gradually wired large sums of money into a personal account. This account was, naturally, separate from his shared marital accounts, as Nino spent most of the money ($4.6 million) on various gifts for women with whom he was having affairs. These gifts ranged from vacations to luxury cars to an apartment in Colombia. The rest of the funds went towards paying back another client from whom he previously stole.

Nino doctored account statements to conceal his fraud. In meetings with the client, he lied about account performance and account balances to perpetuate his scheme. Nino’s crimes were not revealed until the client’s son noticed discrepancies in the accounts.

One must always remain diligent in regard to one’s investments. If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.

SEC Charges Wedbush Securities with Unregistered Sales of Microcap Securities and Failing to Report Suspicious Transactions

The SEC announced that Wedbush has agreed to pay more than $1.2 million to settle charges arising from the unlawful, unregistered distribution of nearly 100 million shares of more than 50 different microcap companies.  In addition, Wedbush failed to file suspicious activity reports (SARs) in reference to these transactions.

According to the SEC’s Order, Wedbush engaged in unregistered offers and sales of large blocks of low-priced securities by an offshore customer.  Wedbush held a brokerage account for Silverton SA, now known as Wintercap, S, a purported Swiss assets manager.  The activity in Silverton’s account reflected a pattern of depositing them low priced securities, selling a large quantity of these shares soon after depositing them and withdrawing the proceeds.  Silverton’s business model enabled individuals or groups scheming to conceal their ownership of and control over public companies to fraudulently sell stock to investors.  Despite the presence of numerous red flags that Wedbush had identified in its written guidance to employees, it failed to file SARs for the transactions it executed on behalf of its offshore customer, as required to do when transactions are suspected to involve fraudulent activity.

Wedbush agreed to cease and desist from committing or causing violations of these provisions; to be censured; payment of disgorgement and prejudgment interest of over $207,000 and a civil penalty of $1 million.  Additionally, in 2018, the SEC and US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts brought parallel actions against a number of related parties, including Silverton’s principal, Roger Knox, for the alleged fraudulent scheme.

If you wish to discuss any securities related questions, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A. 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone 954-693-7577 or 800-718-1422.

SEC Charges Former Executives of TCA Fund Management Group Corp.

On September 30, 2021, the SEC charged Robert D. Press, the former CEO, and Donna M. Silverman, the former Chief Portfolio Manager of TCA Fund Management Group, Corp.  for their alleged roles in the firm’s scheme to artificially inflate values and performance results of several of the firm’s funds.

According to the SEC investigation, Press allegedly recorded non-binding transactions and fraudulent investment banking fees in the fund’s books and records.  Subsequently, the inflated asset values and false performance results were included in promotional materials and account statements distributed to the TCA funds’ current and prospective investors, creating a false sense of having positive monthly returns.  In fact, the funds had at least 34 months of negative returns since inception.

According to the Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office “Press and TCA gave investors a false portrayal of the TCA Funds’ investment success, with Press profiting from this misinformation.”   Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Press and Silverman each agreed to the entry of a cease-and-desist order.  In addition, Press agreed to be barred from the securities industry, and to pay disgorgement of overcharged management and performance fees he received of $4,409,546 plus interest and penalties.  Silverman agreed to a limitation on activities from acting in a director or officer capacity in the securities industry, and to pay a penalty of $50,000.


Seeman Holtz Lawsuits

Several lawsuits have been filed during recent weeks alleging that Florida financial firm Seeman Holtz (SH) defrauded investors. The suits allege that SH sold unregistered securities to unsuspecting and unsophisticated investors, many of whom were in their 90’s.  The investments were purportedly life insurance-backed promissory notes.  Not only were the notes not registered as securities, SH has never been a registered brokerage dealer, and its salesmen were not registered associated persons.

The lawsuits allege that SH’s salesmen visited upscale communities and preyed on elderly investors who wanted stable and secure investments. SH told investors that “the Notes were safe and secure and would be collateralized by a portfolio of life insurance policies which would provide safety of principal and substantial returns.” Investors were assured that their promissory notes would be “liquid and that they would be repaid upon maturity.” One of SH’s clients had purchased multiple notes, of which the client’s suit details two. One note matured in January of 2019 and the other matured a year later. These notes were collectively worth approximately $226,000 and have since defaulted.

It should be noted that Eric Holtz, a cofounder of SH and a defendant in the lawsuits at hand, committed suicide earlier this month.

In one of the pending lawsuits, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation accuses SH of running a “ponzi-type” scheme, accusing the firm of various violations of Florida’s blue-sky statute, including fraud.  As of this date, the SEC has not publicly announced whether it is investigating Seeman Holtz.

If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.

Herbert J. Sims & Co. Ordered to Cease and Desist

On July 30, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against investment firm Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc “HJS”.  The SEC found that between January 2015 and April 2018 HJS made unsuitable investment recommendations to forty-five customers.  Thirteen registered brokers at HJS’s Boca Raton, Florida branch recommended certain high-risk and highly sophisticated variable interest rate structured products “VRSPs” to forty-five customers.  Brokers are required to determine whether an investment is in their client’s best financial interests.  All of the VRSPs recommended and sold to the clients at issue had maturity periods of at least fifteen years.  Notwithstanding this, the product was sold to elderly clients.  VRSPs are “principal-at-risk” securities, meaning that investors can lose part of or their entire principal.  The HJS brokers recommended these VRSPs to elderly clients with low risk tolerance and low annual income.  In one example, an HJS broker “recommended the purchase of over $30,000 in VRSPs to a 69-year-old customer with a low risk tolerance, an investment objective of income, an annual income of less than $25,000, and a net worth of less than $185,000.”

The SEC ordered HJS to hire an independent consultant to review its policies and procedures that are designed to prevent and detect unsuitable recommendations.  The SEC also fined HJS $250,000.

If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.

The Arizona Corporation Commission ordered Jayson Papa, David Miller and Associates to Pay Restitution

On May 18, 2021, the securities division of the Arizona Corporation Commission ordered Jayson Papa, David Miller, and associates to pay restitution and penalties for defrauding investors. Miller operated a company called Meroe Capital Group Ltd. which was retained by Papa’s company, Castle International, LLC. The respondents in the ACC’s order offered and sold securities in the form of at least 22 notes to at least l1 investors, for a total of at least $1,119,425. All of the securities were unregistered and were all fraudulent.

Miller found investors by approaching strangers in public places, such as gyms and restaurants. He told offerees that Castle International was “an exciting company that conducted medical transports domestically and did rescue missions outside the U.S. Miller claimed that Meroe, his “firm,” was a serious Wall Street investment firm. The company’s website and materials featured a Wall Street address, which was in reality a virtual office. Miller told one investor that Castle International was such an exciting company that he personally invested $200,000 in it. The investors’ notes were never fulfilled.

One must always remain diligent in regard to one’s investments. If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.


Arizona Corporation Commission issued an order against Gutman

On May 5th, 2021, the securities division of the Arizona Corporation Commission issued an order against Jerry L. Gutman. Gutman was a broker with United Planners’ Financial Services of America. Gutman sold unregistered securities in the form of membership interests in at least six different LLCs to thirty-one clients of his firm and seven non-clients without disclosing the sales to his firm. The sales totaled over $7,000,000.

For instance, Guttman sold membership interests in Serenity Cemeteries VI, LLC to sixteen investors in exchange for $2,687,500, of which $1,678,374 has been repaid. None of the investments were registered with the ACC and none of them were recorded in United’s records.

Guttman sold membership interests in the following companies: Serenity Cemeteries II, LLC; Serenity Cemeteries IV, LLC; Serenity Cemeteries VI, LLC; Serenity VII, LLC; and Champion Entertainment Group, LLC.

Guttman was ordered to pay restitution to the investors and penalties to the State of Arizona.

One must always remain diligent in regard to one’s investments. If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.

SEC Charges Felon and Six Others in Oil-and-Gas Offering Fraud

On April 14, 2021 the Securities and Exchange Commission charged seven individuals, including criminal recidivist Richard Dale Sterritt, Jr., with defrauding investors in a multimillion-dollar oil-and-gas bid racket and related market manipulation scheme.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that, between March 2018 and at least November 2020, Sterritt – who used the pseudonym “Richard Richman” – Michael Greer, Deanna Looney, Robert Magness, Jr., Katie Mathews, James Christopher Pittman, and Mark Ross raised more than $16 million from more than 300 investors through an unregistered private placement of the common stock of Zona Energy Inc., a Dallas-based company that claimed to be focused on the oil and gas industry. According to the complaint, the defendants made various false and misleading statements verbally and in offering materials to solicit investors, including that their funds would be used to support Zona’s operations, namely to develop the mineral rights on a West Texas cattle ranch. The complaint further alleges that instead of using investors’ money to capitalize Zona, Sterritt and his co-defendants misappropriated millions of dollars raised in the offering, using the funds to pay for luxury goods, rental apartments, a car, and to make cash payments to friends, family members, and Sterritt’s girlfriends. Also, according to the complaint, the offering materials falsely claimed that Zona had no debt when the company actually owed millions of dollars in demand notes to various Sterritt-controlled companies.

The Securities and Exchange Commission urges investors to check the background of anyone selling them an investment and to always independently research investment opportunities.  FINRA’s BrokerCheck website is one such source.  When verifiable information is unavailable, generally, one should walk away.

SEC Obtains Emergency Asset Freeze, Charges Actor with Operating a $690 Million Ponzi Scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission reported on April 6, 2021 that it had secured an asset freeze and other urgent relief in an emergency compliance action against Los Angeles-based actor Zachary Horwitz and his firm, 1inMM (one in a million) Capital, LLC, in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that raised over $690 million. Horwitz and 1inMM reportedly told investors that they were purchasing film rights with the intent of reselling them to Netflix and HBO; however, 1inMM had no commercial arrangement with either group.

Horwitz reportedly gave investors fabricated agreements and emails relating to the suspected HBO and Netflix sales. Horwitz guaranteed excessive returns and made them seem possible by using the titles of two well-known film firms and fabricating records. Horwitz misappropriated investment funds for personal use, including the purchasing of his multi-million dollar home, flights to Las Vegas, and payment to a millionaire interior designer. Horwitz falsely claimed to have a track record of successfully selling movie rights to Netflix and HBO when in fact neither Horwitz nor 1inMM had ever sold or done business with these two companies.

The SEC accused Horwitz and 1inMM of violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing unusual about this scam.  Simply put, there was an abundance of people looking to invest money without engaging in adequate due diligence.  As long as investors are willing to be naïve with their savings, there will always be someone out there hawking returns that seem to good to be true.