Securities and Exchange Commission v. Minuskin, et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California on April 8, 2022, claiming violations of 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, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties.

The SEC brought this action against Julie Minuskin (“Minuskin”), Dennis DiRicco (“DiRicco”), Thomas Casey (“Casey”), Golden Genesis, Inc. (“Golden Genesis”), and Joshua Stoll (“Stoll”) (collectively “Defendants”).  According to the complaint, Defendant Minuskin created Retire Happy LLC (“Retire Happy”), a Nevada limited liability company, which specialized in self-directed IRAs and provided financial education on how to leverage retirement accounts and create passive income by promoting self-directed retirement accounts. Defendant DiRicco was the Chief Financial Officer and board member of Defendant Golden Genesis and the managing member of non-party Until Tomorrow LLC (“Until Tomorrow”). Defendant Casey is the majority owner, Chief Executive Officer, and board member of Defendant Golden Genesis. Defendant Stoll was an account specialist at Retire Happy.

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Securities Exchange Commission v. David J. Bunevacz et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on April 5, 2022, seeking an injunctive relief, disgorgement, and civil penalties. Specifically, the complaint alleges violations of federal securities laws, including Sections 10(b) and 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Sections 17(a), 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933.

The SEC brought this enforcement action against David J. Bunevacz (“Bunevacz”) and two entities under his control, Caesarbrutus LLC and CB Holding Group Corp., along with his stepdaughter Mary Hayca Bunevacz (“Mary Hayca”).  Bunevacz and his entities are engaged in the production and sale of cannabis products, particularly “vape” pens infused with Cannabidiol (“CBD”).

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Oregon JV LLC v. Advanced Investment et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon on March 2, 2022. Plaintiff asserts claims sounding in fraud and requests compensatory and equitable relief against a construction lender and other individuals and entities that funded various loans to a homebuilder with a history of fraud and embezzlement.

Plaintiff is a company that managed a construction loan pool for non-party Joseph Russi.  Defendant Advanced Investment Corp (“AIC”) is an Oregon-based corporation that previously managed the loan pool at issue. The remaining Defendants consist of trustees of various trusts, Oregon-based financial institutions, and several Oregon residents, all of which were investors in the subject loan pool (the “Defendant Lenders”).

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Chan v. Anthony, et al. was filed in the District Court for Denver County, Colorado on March 1, 2022, asserting claims under the Colorado Securities Act for securities fraud, investment advisor fraud, unlicensed broker/dealer activity, unlicensed investment adviser activity, and unregistered securities.

Tung Chan (“Chan”), Colorado’s Securities Commissioner, brought this action against Defendant David Anthony (“Anthony”) and nine unlicensed investment companies that he owned and operated (collectively with Anthony, the “Defendants”).  Chan also included Anthony’s wife as a relief defendant to claw back funds from the scheme used for the Anthonys’ personal expenses.

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Aarus Enterprises LLC v. Burgerim Group USA, Inc. was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles on February 15, 2022, seeking civil damages from a fraudulent investment scheme involving the purchase and sale of fast-food burger franchises. Specifically, the complaint alleges promissory fraud, intentional misrepresentation, and concealment.

Plaintiffs include over fifteen individuals and entities who invested in the burger franchises. The Defendants are the burger franchise Burgerim Group USA, Inc. (“Burgerim”) and unnamed individuals who participated in the scheme.

Plaintiffs contend they were presented the chance to invest in Burgerim, which represented itself as the fastest growing fast-food burger franchise.  Burgerim told investors they could purchase a franchise for $50,000, a portion of which could be financed or paid later.  Burgerim also offered to assist with real estate transactions in opening the franchise restaurants.  But Burgerim did not deliver on those promises.  Instead, it gave investors unrealistic financing options and unworkable estimates for construction timelines and costs.  Burgerim also hid from investors that it used new franchisees’ fees to repay existing franchisees and received kickbacks from vendors, real estate agents, and other representatives.

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Tu Le et al. v. Prestige Community Credit Union, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on February 18, 2022, is the second putative class action filed in connection with a church-based investment scheme propped up by Ponzi-type payments, this time targeting the bank that housed the schemers’ accounts.

Plaintiffs Tu Le, Geneva Nguyen, and Mai T. Ly are individuals who invested in a scheme run by entities related to a now-defunct church and its pastor, convicted felon Kent R.E. Whitney (the “Whitney Schemers”).  The scheme targeted individuals by misrepresenting that their funds would be used to open investment accounts earning over 10% interest, but very little of investor funds actually went into trading accounts. Defendant Prestige Community Credit Union (“Prestige”) is the credit union purportedly used by the Whitney Schemers.  Plaintiffs seek to represent a class of all individuals who invested and lost money with any of the Whitney Schemers, as well as a sub-class of all such class members who were residents of California and over 65 years old at the time of investment.

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Bui v. Nguyen was filed in California Superior Court on December 30, 2021, claiming relief for civil damages. Specifically, the complaint alleges claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, promissory fraud, constructive fraud, fraudulent concealment, and conversion.

Plaintiffs are three individuals who invested funds with Defendants The Church for the Healthy Self a/k/a CHS Trust (“Defendant Church”), its pastor Kent Whitney (“Whitney”), other individuals touting the alleged scheme, and various television stations.

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yLoft, LLC v. Bechtler, Parker & Watts, P.S.C. was filed in the Circuit Court for Jefferson County, Kentucky on January 18, 2022, asserting claims for negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, violation of state securities laws, and unjust enrichment against an accounting firm alleged to have facilitated the sale of unregistered securities.

Plaintiffs are individuals and institutional investors that invested in promissory notes sold by non-parties ACS Payment Solutions, LTD Co. d/b/a ACS Payment Solutions, LLC and ACS Payment Solutions II Incorporated (collectively, “ACS”).  Defendant Bechtler, Parker & Watts, P.S.C. (“BPW”) is an accounting firm owned by Defendant Christopher J. Bechtler (“Bechtler”) that performed accounting services for ACS and Plaintiffs.  Defendants are alleged to have engaged in a scheme with ACS to solicit and defraud outside investors, including Plaintiffs.

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DeCoster v. One Seven d/b/a We Are One Seven, J Wellington Financial, LLC, and Jason Jodway was filed in the Circuit Court for the County of Macomb, Michigan on January 28, 2022, seeking damages and equitable relief along with interest, costs, and attorneys’ fees for claims of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent supervision.

Plaintiffs Michelle and Lawrence DeCoster are individuals who allegedly fell victim to a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Heartland Group Ventures, LLC and its affiliates (“Heartland”).  Defendant Jason Jodway (“Jodway”) is alleged to have advised the Plaintiffs to invest in the scheme, and Defendants One Seven d/b/a We are One Seven (“One Seven”) and J Wellington Financial, LLC (“Wellington”) are purportedly liable for the actions of Jodway as their agent, though Jodway’s connection to Wellington is not clear.

Continue Reading New Complaint – DeCoster v. One Seven d/b/a We Are One Seven, LLC

Andersen, et al. v. Gigapix Studios, Inc. was filed in the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento on January 13, 2022 seeking civil damages for claims of fraud and misrepresentation.

Plaintiffs are a group of individuals who invested in Defendant Gigapix Studios, Inc. (“Gigapix”).  Gigapix is an animation company that solicited investors by advertising that it would generate large profits from prospective projects.

Plaintiffs allege that Gigapix was founded by Christopher Blauvelt and led by David Pritchard, who purchased investor lead lists and hired telemarketers to solicit potential investors.  Investors were told that Gigapix was an animation company on the verge of an initial public offering or reverse merger with a public company that would net high returns for investors.  In reality, however, Plaintiffs allege that Gigapix was a Ponzi scheme that materially misrepresented the funds that would be spent on producing shows and movies, the anticipated timing of returns on investment, the level of risk involved, and the success of prior Gigapix projects.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Andersen, et al. v. Gigapix Studios, Inc.