Fatime Abdel-Fakhara, et. al. v. The State of Vermont, et. al., was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont on August 24, 2021 by investors claiming that the State of Vermont and several individual Defendants wrongfully solicited and used investor funds to complete the last two phases of a Vermont ski resort after they had knowledge that the first six phases were funded through a Ponzi scheme. The complaint alleges claims for: (1) civil conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) constitutional taking without just compensation against the State of Vermont; (3) constitutional taking with no Due Process against the State of Vermont; and (4) gross negligence against the individual defendants.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Fatime Abdel-Fakhara v. The State of Vermont

Mills v. Trustmark National Bank, et al. was filed in the Southern District of Mississippi on August 19, 2021 by a receiver appointed on behalf of companies engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by producing false deeds for the purchase and sale of timber.

Plaintiff Alysson Mills (“Plaintiff”) is the Receiver for Arthur Adams (“Adams”) and his company turned Ponzi scheme Madison Timber Properties, LLC (“Madison Timber”).  The defendants are Trustmark Corporation d/b/a Trustmark National Bank (“Trustmark”), Southern Bancorp Bank (“Southern”), Riverhills Bank (“Riverhills”), Bennie Butts (“Butts”), and Jud Watkins (“Watkins”) (collectively, “Defendants”).  Butts and Watkins were employees of Trustmark and Riverhills during the alleged Ponzi scheme.


Continue Reading New Complaint – Mills v. Trustmark National Bank, et al.

Puleo, et al. v. Nelson, et al. was filed in the Central District of California on August 10, 2021, seeking damages based on more than thirty claims for violation of various state and federal securities laws, elder financial abuse, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with a real estate Ponzi scheme.

Plaintiffs are numerous individual and trustee investors who invested in student housing projects either as individuals, through their business enterprises, or as trustees of trusts.  Defendants are Nelson Partners, a California limited liability company that sponsored the offering of the real estate interests, Patrick Nelson as the sole owner, president, and chief executive officer of Nelson Partners (collectively, “Nelson Partners”), Axonic Capital LLC, a hedge fund (“Axonic”), and various other individual and corporate investment advisors and funds affiliated with Nelson Partners and Axonic.


Continue Reading New Complaint – Puleo, et al. v. Nelson, et al.

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.

Morrison, et al. v. Rockwell, et al. was filed in California Superior Court, Marin County, on May 28, 2021. The complaint seeks civil damages for claims of breach of fiduciary duty, multiple violations of the California Corporations Code, constructive fraud, breach of contract, and negligence.

Plaintiffs are a group of investors who used Defendants as investment advisors.  Defendants are a series of corporate entities, Dow Rockwell, LLC, Rockwell Retirement Partners, and Marin Wealth Management, LLC, an individual investment advisor, Rick Rockwell, and many unnamed defendants Plaintiffs believe may have been involved in aiding Defendants.


Continue Reading New Complaint – Morrison v. Rockwell

The collapse of a Ponzi scheme usually follows a familiar pattern.  When the scheme is exposed, the company created by the schemer—which is usually little more than a sham entity—is placed into receivership or declares bankruptcy (or both).  A receiver or bankruptcy trustee is then tasked with recovering any funds belonging to the estate so that they may be distributed to creditors.  As part of this process, these court-appointed parties step into the shoes of the company and may bring any litigation that the company itself could have brought.  Bankruptcy trustees are also granted the exclusive right to bring “general claims” on behalf of the entities’ creditors.

This process creates a thorny question: who may seek recovery from a third party alleged to have been involved in the fraud?  Creditors that lent funds to sham companies often pursue claims against financial institutions that banked the schemers on aiding-and-abetting theories.  Yet receivers and trustees also often bring these claims, leading to duplicative litigation and the question of who properly “owns” the claim.

A recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota provides important guidance on this question.  Ritchie v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 14-cv-04786, 2021 WL 2686079 (D. Minn. June 30, 2021) untangles who has standing to bring claims against a third party alleged to have aided and abetted a Ponzi scheme.  As the Court explains, “general” claims for loss of funds belong exclusively to court-appointed bankruptcy trustees.  Third parties may only bring particularized claims that arise from injuries “directly traceable” to the defendant’s conduct.  Ritchie thus serves as a touchstone in disputes over standing in Ponzi litigation.


Continue Reading Minnesota Court Untangles Who Owns What Claim in the Fallout of a Ponzi Scheme

Abidog v. New York Life Insurance Co. was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California on June 18, 2021, seeking damages and rescission of unregistered promissory notes sold in a Ponzi scheme that deprived elderly and other unwitting investors of their life savings.  The fifteen-count complaint alleges violations of California statutory and common law, as well as federal securities law.

Defendant Felix Chu is a former agent of Defendants New York Life Insurance Company and NYLIFE Securities LLC (collectively, “New York Life”) who used his role at New York Life to perpetrate the Ponzi scheme.  Plaintiffs are investors in the scheme.


Continue Reading New Complaint – Abidog v. New York Life Insurance Co.

Wiand v. ATC Brokers Ltd, et al. was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, on May 28, 2021.  The complaint was filed by a Receiver appointed in an action brought by the Commodity Futures Trade Commission (the “CFTC”) alleging the operation of a Ponzi scheme.  The complaint alleges (1) aiding and abetting fraud, (2) aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duties, (3) gross negligence, and (4) simple negligence.  In addition, the complaint seeks to avoid alleged fraudulent transfers received by ATC Brokers Ltd.

Plaintiff is the court appointed Receiver over Oasis International Group, Limited, Oasis Management LLC, and Satellite Holdings Company (the “Oasis Entities”) in an action filed by the CFTC, titled Commodity Futures Trade Commission v. Oasis International Group, Limited, et al., Case No. 8:19-cv-00886-VMC-SPF (M.D. Fla. Apr. 15, 2019).  Defendants include: (1) ATC Brokers Ltd., the exchange firm the Ponzi scheme operators used to carry out the scheme; (2) Spotex LLC, the entity that provided the software used to carry out the Ponzi scheme; and (3) an owner of both entity Defendants.


Continue Reading New Complaint – Wiand as Receiver for Oasis International Group, Limited, et al. v. ATC Brokers Ltd, et al.

IMG Memorial Fund 1 was filed in the Southern District of New York on April 14, 2021, alleging that various defendants, including individuals and investment funds, violated federal securities laws and the common law through their use of a proprietary trading platform.  Specifically, the complaint alleges violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Act, along with common law claims for breach of fiduciary duty and negligent misrepresentation.

Plaintiff IMG Memorial Fund 1 is a family investment fund.  Defendant Jeffrey Spotts is the principal individual who created various investment funds, including the Prophecy Special Opportunities Fund and Prophecy Special Ops GP LLC (collectively, “Prophecy”).  Defendant Vantage Consulting Group is an investment advisor with an ownership interest in defendant investment fund First Landing Fund LLC, which is co-controlled by individual defendants, Mark Finn and David Schippers (collectively, “First Landing”).


Continue Reading New Complaint – IMG Memorial Fund 1, LLC v. First Landing Fund, LLC, et al.