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Articles Tagged with ponzi scams

Top10-3Five unregistered brokers and their companies are now facing US Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing them of selling Woodbridge securities to investors even though they were not registered as broker-dealers and therefore were not allowed to sell these securities. The defendants allegedly made millions of dollars from the Woodbridge securities sales.

The unregistered brokers and their companies are Barry and Ferne Kornfeld and Fek Enterprises, Andrew G. Costa and Costa Financial Insurance Services Corp., Albert D. Klager and Atlantic Insurance & Financial Services Inc., and Lynette M. Robbins and Knowles Systems, Inc. They allegedly sold over $243M of Woodbridge unregistered securities to over 1600 retail investors.

According to the regulator’s complaints, the unregistered brokers and the companies marketed Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC as an investment that was “safe and secure.” Woodbridge, however, declared bankruptcy last December. The moment Woodbridge filed for bankruptcy protection, investors stopped receiving the interest they were due each month and they still haven’t received a return on their principal.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing Equitybuild Inc., a real estate investment firm that is based in Florida, and its owners of operating a $135M Ponzi scam that defrauded approximately 900 investors. The regulator contends that the company, its President/CEO Jerome Cohen, and Vice President Shaun Cohen, who are father and son, promised investors double-digit returns of 12-20%, even as their business was incurring massive losses. Meantime, investors were paid returns using earlier investors’ money in Ponzi-like fashion.

Equitybuild investors were mostly unsophisticated, non-accredited investors without much experience in investing in real estate. The Cohens allegedly touted a purportedly original strategy for identifying an undervalued property in Chicago, Illinois’ South Side that they claimed would render huge returns. Investors were promised promissory notes that named a specific property. Third parties were supposed to buy the properties with mortgages that the investors had funded and this would generate returns.

Unfortunately, there don’t appear to have been many third-party buyers. Equitybuild was the one that owned most of the properties and the real estate investment company purportedly stopped searching for third-party buyers a few years ago.

According to New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office and Division of Consumer Affairs, JB Financial Resources and its owner Jeffrey Mitchell Isaacs must pay a $750K for allegedly selling NJ investors over $7M in unregistered securities connected to the $1.2B Woodbridge Ponzi Scam. More than 8,500 people are said to have been defrauded nationally in that scheme before its demise last year.

The state of New Jersey contends that JB Financial Resources and Isaacs sold about 88 unregistered securities on behalf of the Woodbridge Group of Companies. Isaac’s other entity, JMI Associates  LLC, is also accused of promoting and selling unregistered investments, including first position commercial mortgage securities (FPCMs)  tied to Woodbridge in NJ.

Marketing collateral touted the unregistered securities as a “unique lending opportunity.” Sale proceeds would reportedly be used by the Woodbridge Funds to issue commercial loans to commercial borrowers. Instead, the FPCMs sold to NJ investors were not collateralized right away. In certain instances, borrowers did not get the loans for weeks or months after investors bought them.

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