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.

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”).Continue Reading New Complaint – Oregon JV LLC v. Advanced Investment et al.

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.Continue Reading New Complaint – Aarus Enterprises LLC v. Burgerim Group USA, Inc.

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.Continue Reading New Complaint – Tu Le et al. v. Prestige Community Credit Union

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

McGuireWoods’ Ponzi Litigation team launched its Ponzi Perspectives blog in early 2021 to track key decisions and new cases in Ponzi civil and criminal litigation.  Ponzi Perspectives focuses on cases and decisions that have the potential to influence controlling law on Ponzi-related issues.  The blog also offers analysis of key decisions and practical considerations when

Securities and Exchange Commission v. BNZ One Capital, LLC, et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on October 28, 2021 claiming Defendants violated the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act,  the Securities Exchange Act,  and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, as well as the registration provisions of the Securities Act. The SEC also brings claims against individual Defendants Barber and Zimmerle for violations of the broker-dealer registration provisions of the Exchange Act and accuses them of being secondarily liable for BNZ’s fraud as control persons pursuant to the Exchange Act.
Continue Reading New Complaint – SEC v. BNZ One Capital, LLC, et al.

Ponzi schemes focused on fake investment opportunities are nothing new. Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford and Tom Petters are now household names. But there has been a particular rise of Ponzi schemes specifically in the film and video content industry that has intensified in the last few years.

As streaming services vie for dominance in the frenzied content wars in an effort to draw in more and more viewers, this trend is likely to accelerate. These streaming services will spend tens of billions of dollars this year alone creating and acquiring video content.[1]

These conditions create a perfect breeding ground for Ponzi schemes, given the amount of money changing hands and the lax due diligence standards investors sometimes accept in exchange for the chance to tap into this hot market.

In the last year alone, the largest film financing Ponzi scheme in U.S. history collapsed, and these schemes spread to overseas markets, like China.Continue Reading Ponzi Schemes: A Growing Hazard in Film Financing

Sedlar-Sholty, et al. v. Acclivity West, LLC, et al. was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles on July 19, 2021 seeking damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent and intentional misrepresentation in connection with a life settlement investment Ponzi scheme.

Plaintiffs are numerous individual and trustee investors who made investments in life insurance policies, either independently or through their retirement programs.  Defendants are Acclivity West LLC (“Acclivity West”), a California company, and several owners and employees of Acclivity West.
Continue Reading New Complaint – Sedlar-Sholty, et al. v. Acclivity West, LLC, et al.