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.

Continue Reading New Complaint – yLoft LLC v. Bechtler, Parker, Watts, P.S.C.

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.

Schwartz v. McGregor was filed in the District Court of Denver County, Colorado on January 10, 2022, seeking relief under Colorado’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, C.R.S. § 38-8-101-112 (“CUFTA”), including a turnover and accounting and damages for actual and constructive fraud.

Plaintiff Gary Schwartz is a court-appointed Receiver (“Receiver”) on behalf of a multi-million-dollar fraudulent investment scheme perpetrated by Mark Ray (“Ray”).  The Receiver was appointed over Mark Ray, Custom Consulting & Product Services, LLC, MR Cattle Production Services, LLC, Universal Herbs, LLC, DBC Limited, LLC, RM Farm & Livestock, LLC, Sunshine Enterprises (the “Estate entities”). Defendant Eric McGregor (“Defendant”) was an investor in the Ponzi scheme who allegedly received numerous avoidable transfers from the Estate entities.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Schwartz v. McGregor

Freitag, as Receiver for ANI Development LLC v. Dean Libs, et al. was filed in the Southern District of California on January 25, 2022, asserting one claim for fraudulent transfer.

Plaintiff is the court-appointed permeant receiver for ANI Development LLC (“ANI Development”), American National Investments, Inc., and their subsidiaries and affiliates (“Receivership Entities”) in an action titled SEC v. Gina Champion-Cain, et al., Case No. 3:19-cv-01628-LAB-AHG (“SEC Action”).  Plaintiff was appointed Receiver in the SEC Action and was vested with exclusive authority and control over the assets of the Receivership Entities, as well as investigatory powers.  This action is against Defendant Dean Libs, in his individual capacity, and Defendant Dean Libs Inc., a California corporation.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Freitag, as Receiver for ANI Development LLC v. Dean Libs, et al.

Backed by unrealistically ambitious owners, well-intentioned business ideas that fail to meet expectations or become unsustainable regrettably often become full-fledged Ponzi schemes.  Today’s Growth Consultant, Inc. (“TGC”) represents an entity that faced the same fate.

TGC advertised to potential investors its expertise in building, acquiring, and monetizing online websites.  Investors paid an upfront fee to TGC to purchase, host, maintain, and market the investors’ websites in exchange for TGC’s guarantee that investors would receive a minimum rate of return in perpetuity on the revenues TGC generated from those websites.  TGC raised at least $75 million during a nearly three year period, but its business model proved unsuccessful—it failed to timely purchase and build the promised websites or generate the promised revenue to cover the guaranteed returns to investors.  Instead, TGC turned into a Ponzi scheme to sustain its failing business by paying early investors with money it raised from later investors.

TGC maintained its business bank accounts at Defendants Heartland Bank and Trust Company (“Heartland”) and PNC Bank, N.A. (“PNC”) (collectively, “Defendants”).  TGC banked with Heartland until October 2018, and with PNC thereafter until December 2019.  Defendants provided TGC with typical banking services, including deposit accounts, commercial loans and revolving lines of credit, ACH capabilities, and transfers into, out of, and among TGC’s accounts.

In a recent decision in PLB Investments LLC et al. v. Heartland Bank and Trust Co. et al., the Northern District of Illinois decided that various defrauded investors of TGC (“Plaintiffs”) did not set forth sufficient allegations to show actual knowledge of a Ponzi scheme or bad faith in support of various Illinois state law claims against PNC.  No. 20 C 1023, 2021 WL 5937152 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 15, 2021).  While different jurisdictions set varying thresholds for adequately alleging actual knowledge or bad faith, PLB Investments emphasizes the importance of analyzing these elements early on to determine whether a plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts on the pleadings.

Continue Reading Illinois Federal Court Carves Up Plaintiffs’ Ponzi Scheme Claims For Lack of Actual Knowledge or Bad Faith

Heinen v. iDigrati, LLC, et al. was filed in the Superior Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia on December 16, 2021, claiming civil damages for breach of contract and state securities violations in connection with purported investments in promissory notes sold by Defendants.

Plaintiff is an individual who invested $200,000 with Defendant in exchange for a promissory note. Defendants are the investment company, iDigrati, LLC (“iDigrati”) and its two operating individuals, Narendra Patel and Bruce Rowland.  Rowland is deceased and is represented by his estate in this action.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Heinen v. iDigrati, LLC, et al.

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.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Eckfeldt v. Barber

Two related cases, Bradley D. Sharp v. Shinhan Bank Co., Ltd. (the “Shinhan Action”) and Sharp v. Daishin Securities Co., Ltd. (the “Daishin Action”), were filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on November 23, 2021 by the receivers for various businesses under the Direct Lending Investments, LLC umbrella of companies (“Direct Lending”).  Both actions allege that certain redemptions paid out to investors in a fraudulent investment scheme constitute constructive and actual fraudulent transfers under California’s Uniform Voidable Transactions Act, regardless of the investors’ knowledge of the underlying fraud.

Plaintiffs in both actions are receivers (the “Receivers”) appointed in the underlying SEC enforcement action against an investment manager entity that was used to carry out a fraudulent investment scheme (the “Receivership Entity”). Defendants in the Shinhan Action are investment funds (the “Defendant Funds”) that invested in the scheme, trustees (the “Defendant Trustees”) that entered into subscription agreements with the Receivership Entity on the Defendant Fund’s behalf, and fund managers (the “Defendant Managers,”) that sold the funds to investors.   Defendant in the Daishin Action is a South Korean investment company that invested in the scheme.

Continue Reading New Complaints – Sharp v. Shinhan Bank Co., et al. & Sharp v. Daishin Securities Co., Ltd.

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