On the heels of a related action filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on November 12, 2021, Eckfeldt v. Barber was filed in the Superior Court of California, Orange County, on December 9, 2021, claiming breach of contract, fraud, intentional misrepresentation, and conversion.

In the SEC action, the SEC alleged that individual Defendants Brett Reed Barber (“Barber”) and Louis Alfonso Zimmerle (“Zimmerle”) used Defendant BNZ One Capital, LLC (“BNZ”) to solicit investments from potential investors by misrepresenting that BNZ was in the real estate investment business and promising returns of 8-10% annualized interest.  Nearly half of the investors used funds from their Individual Retirement Accounts.  Ultimately, this operated as a classic Ponzi scheme, with the schemers paying themselves handsome fees and paying earlier investors with later investors’ principal.

Plaintiff in the civil action is an investor who claims to have invested over $500,000 with Defendants through various Lender/Investment Statement Agreements.  Plaintiff ostensibly learned that he had invested in a Ponzi scheme when Barber was charged with federal fraud and money laundering crimes.  The complaint states that suspicions arose when Plaintiff requested tax documents to report his investments and Defendants refused to proffer the same.  After the SEC filed its parallel action, Plaintiff promptly filed this action to recover his losses from the schemers.