With a new decision settling the issue, businesses run the risk of being held liable for the conduct of their customers with the potential for increased Ponzi scheme related litigation following the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s approval of a cause of action for aiding and abetting fraud. 

Continue Reading Pennsylvania Supreme Court Recognizes a New Cause of Action Against Those Who Aid and Abet Fraud

Notable litigation filed during December 2022 includes: (1) Eichler v. Vbit Technol. Corp;. (2) SEC v. Fernandez, et al.; (3) Vincent v. Barber, et al.; (4) O’Dowd v. Barber, et al.; (5) Nguyen v. Barber, et al.; (6) M. Manni v. Barber, et al.; (7) J. Manni v. Barber, et al.; and (8) Ames, et al. v. Nelson, et al.

Continue Reading Notable Litigation – December 2022

Notable litigation for October includes: (1) Karvounides, et al. v. Antonas, et al.; (2) Capital Providers of Cambridge Sarano, LLC, et al. v. Robl, et al.; (3) Investors in Friends of Production Capital LLC v. Friends of Production Capital LLC; and (4) Orrico, et al. v. ABC Capital Investments, LLC.

Continue Reading Notable Litigation – October 2022

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Lam, et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on September 22, 2022, claiming Defendants Brian Lam (“Lam”), Nathan Nguyen (“Nguyen”), NineSquare Capital Partners LLC (“NineSquare Capital”), and Nguyen Group LLC (“NGL”) (collectively, “Defendants”) violated several provisions of the Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act. Specifically, the SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants to prevent future violations of the federal securities laws, permanent injunctions prohibiting Defendants Lam and Nguyen from participating in an unregistered securities offering, disgorgement with prejudgment interest from Defendants and Relief Defendants Yi Ping Lu and Thy Stacy Nguyen (the “Relief Defendants”), and civil penalties against Defendants.

The SEC filed this action against Defendants for operating an offering fraud that targeted the Vietnamese-American community, which raised $11.7 million from 73 investors nationwide from March 2020 to January 2022. Defendant Lam orchestrated the fraud through his company NineSquare, a Delaware limited partnership which purported to be a hedge fund. Defendant Nguyen is the principal of NGL, a company that helped solicit investors in NineSquare. The two Relief Defendants, Yi Ping Lu, Lam’s wife, and Thy Stacy Nguyen, Nguyen’s wife, purportedly used proceeds from the fraud to pay for luxury homes purchased in their names.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Securities and Exchange Commission v. Lam, et al.

SEC v. JMJ Capital Group and Richard Lee Ramirez is a Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) enforcement action filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California on September 30, 2022.  JMJ Capital Group (“JMJ”) is a California corporation and Richard Lee Ramirez (“Ramirez”) is the owner and sole operator of JMJ

On August 31, 2022, Plaintiff Melanie E. Damian, in her capacity as the Court-Appointed Receiver for Today’s Growth Consultant, Inc. d/b/a The Income Store (“TGC”) (the “Receiver”) filed a complaint against Defendant Core Financial Outsourcing of Chicago (“Core Financial”) in the Northern District of Illinois (“Damian II”) seeking damages, injunctive relief, interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs. The complaint alleges five claims for professional negligence, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and two violations of the Illinois Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.

This action stems from a prior enforcement action seeking civil penalties and injunctive relief filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) against TGC and its founder, Kenneth D. Courtright, III (“Courtright”), based upon TGC and Courtright’s alleged violation of federal securities laws and operation of a website services Ponzi scheme.

We previously wrote about PLB Investments LLC et al v. Heartland Bank and Trust Co. et al., a related case initiated by various defrauded investors of TGC against two bank defendants that
Continue Reading New Complaint – Damian as Receiver of Today’s Growth Consultant, Inc. v. Core Financial Outsourcing of Chicago, LLC

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Giri, et al., was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on August 11, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act and Commission Regulations. Specifically, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants, disgorgement, rescission, and civil penalties.

The CFTC brought this action against Rathnakishore Giri (“Giri”), SR Private Equity, LLC (“SR Private Equity”), NBD Eidetic Capital, LLC (“NBD Eidetic”), Giri Subramani (“Subramani”), and Loka Pavani Giri (“Pavani Giri”) (collectively, “Defendants”) who are alleged to have engaged in a fraudulent scheme to trade digital assets—mainly bitcoin—on behalf of investors. Defendant Giri is a controlling person of both Defendants NBD Eidetic, an Ohio limited liability company, and SR Private Equity, an Ohio limited liability company. Defendants Subramani and Pavani Giri are the parents of Defendant Giri.

The complaint alleges that starting in or around March 2019, Defendant Giri solicited
Continue Reading New Complaint – U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Giri, et al.

Guo, et al. v. Robl, et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on August 8, 2022.  Plaintiffs assert claims of fraudulent inducement, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, civil racketeering under RICO, violations of the California Penal and Corporations Codes, violations of state securities laws, and breach of contract.  Plaintiffs request compensatory damages and equitable relief against defendant media production companies and related individuals and entities that allegedly induced investors into financing film projects that ultimately failed, leaving Plaintiffs with substantial losses.

Plaintiff Gosdom, Inc. (“Gosdom”) is a California corporation, and Plaintiff Vanessa Guo (“Guo”) is its Chief Executive Officer (collectively “Plaintiffs”). Defendants Kevin Robl (“Robl”) and Chris Bremble (“Bremble”) are principals and managers of Defendants Production Capital, LLC (“Production Capital”) and/or Chinese-based production company Base Media Technology Group Limited (“Base Media”), and Defendant Remington Chase (“Chase”) is the principal of Defendants Production House International, LLC (“Production House”) (collectively, “Enterprise Financing Defendants”). The remaining Defendants consist of American and Chinese filmmakers and media companies, California attorneys, and various entities based in California, Delaware, and Wyoming—all of which benefited from or were aware of the loan and investments used to finance the film projects.

The Enterprise Defendants are alleged to have engaged in a scheme to defraud
Continue Reading New Complaint – Guo, et al. v. Robl, et al.

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Okhotnikov was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on August 1, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act in connection with offering and selling unregistered smart contracts operated on the Ethereum, Tron, and Binance blockchains. Specifically, the SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants in order to prevent future violations of the federal securities laws, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and civil damages.

The SEC brought the enforcement action against Defendants Vladimir Okhotnikov (“Okhotnikov”), Jane Doe a/k/a Lola Ferrari (“Ferrari”), Mikail Sergeev (“Sergeev”), and Sergey Maslakov (“Maslakov”)—a set of Russia-based individuals who are alleged to have created, operated, and maintained an online pyramid and Ponzi scheme through smart contracts on various blockchains (collectively, the “Founder Defendants”)—and Defendants Samuel D. Ellis (“Ellis”), Mark F. Hamlin (“Hamlin”), and Sarah L. Theissen (“Theissen”) who are individuals alleged to have engaged in the promotion or sale of the smart contracts to investors within the United States (collectively, the “Promoter Defendants”).

The complaint alleges that in the fall of 2019, the Founder Defendants formed Forsage.io (“Forsage”), an unincorporated entity, for the purpose of coding smart contracts on various blockchains and building a website that would serve as an interface for the promotion and sale of the smart contracts. However, the complaint alleges that from January 2020 until the present, Defendants operated, promoted, and maintained an online pyramid and Ponzi scheme through Forsage, allowing millions of retail investors to enter into transactions via the sale of unregistered smart contracts maintained on the Ethereum, Tron, and Binance blockchains. To date, the transactions have totaled over $300 million.

Continue Reading New Complaint – SEC v. Vladimir Okhotnikov, et al.