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Articles Tagged with Woodbridge Group of Companies

Ex-Woodbridge Group of Companies CEO and owner Robert Shapiro and former Woodbridge directors Ivan Acevedo and Dane R. Roseman are now facing criminal charges over their alleged involvement in operating a $1.2B Ponzi scam that went on from ’12 to ’17. All three men were arrested and appeared in federal court last week.

Woodbridge and its 281 related companies are accused of defrauding over 8,400 retail investors, including many senior investors who lost retirement money as a result. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) 2017 complaint against Shapiro, Woodbridge, and the related companies, investors were promised yearly returns of up to 5 to 8%. Payments were supposedly from the interest paid to an affiliate on loans issued to third party borrowers. However, contends the SEC, there were not enough third-party borrowers to pay the thousands of investors involved, resulting in just under $14M in interest income. Newer investors’ funds were allegedly used to pay earlier investors.

Woodbridge and the companies settled the regulator’s case last year by agreeing to pay over $1B, including disgorging $892M in ill-gotten gains. Shapiro’s settlement involved a $100M penalty and disgorgement of $18.5M plus $2.1M in prejudgment interest. Now, with the criminal case, Shapiro is charged with tax evasion and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

A federal court has ordered the Woodbridge Group of Companies and its former CEO and owner Robert H. Shapiro to pay $1B in disgorgement and penalties for allegedly running a $1.2B Ponzi scam that victimized 8,400 retail investors, including many senior investors who ended up losing their retirement money. Of this $1B, Woodbridge and its 281 related companies must pay $892M in disgorgement. Shapiro must disgorge $18.5M in ill-gotten gains, as well as pay $2.1 in prejudgment interest and a $100M civil penalty.

In 2017, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges against Woodbridge, which it called a “group of unregistered investment companies,” and other defendants. The regulator contends that Woodbridge claimed that its main business was to issue loans to third-party commercial property owners. The defendant allegedly promised investors 5-10% in interest yearly. The company’s marketing materials touted an “over 90% renewal rate” from investors because of “proven results.”

The SEC said that the reality was that most of these supposed third-party borrowers were, in fact, companies that Shapiro owned. They purportedly made no income and did not pay interest on any of these supposed loans.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has barred yet another ex-broker for selling promissory notes that have since been linked to the $1.2B Woodbridge Ponzi scam. The fraud is believed to have bilked around 8,400 investors.

According to the self-regulatory authority (SRO), broker Frank Dietrich sold 58 investors $10M of promissory notes that came from the Woodbridge Group of Companies. 30 of these investors were clients of Quest Capital Strategies, Inc., which was Dietrich’s brokerage firm at the time of the sales. FINRA said that the former Quest Capital broker earned $261K in commissions from selling the Woodbridge investments.

Quest Capital Strategies reportedly did not know that Dietrich was selling the Woodbridge notes to its customers. Earlier this year, the brokerage firm allowed him to step down after finding that he had sold a product it had not approved and for failing to disclose external business activities.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed financial fraud charges against the Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC and its owner Robert H. Shapiro. The Woodbridge Group is comprised of unregistered investment companies. According to the regulator, Woodbridge and Shapiro ran a $1.2B Ponzi Scam that bilked over 8,400 investors, many of whom where older investors. At least 2,600 investors collectively spent close to $400M that came from their IRAs.

The civil fraud charges include other alleged federal securities law violations. The SEC also announced an asset freeze to keep more investor funds from dissipating. The regulator wants restoration of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus interest, as well as financial penalties.

Senior Financial Fraud

The Commission’s complaint accused Woodbridge and its owner of defrauding seniors using a “sham” business model that involved selling investments in unregistered Woodbridge funds. The company presented its main business as giving loans to third-party commercial property owners that were paying 11-15% in yearly interest for “’hard money’ short-term financing.” In fact, claims the SEC, the property owners were not third-parties but were companies belonging to Shapiro. Not only that but they had no income streams and never paid interest on these supposed loans. Woodbridge and Shapiro are said to have used investor money to buy nearly 200 commercial and residential properties in California and Colorado.

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Already under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for financial fraud, the Woodbridge Group of Companies has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to InvestmentNews, this move comes a week after the luxury real estate developer missed payments due to investors on the notes they had purchased.

The company has raised over $1B from investors, including senior investors. InvestmentNews reports that many investors were told that their investments would be safe in real estate. Now, however, Woodbridge is saying that it has $750M of debt. Court documents submitted in US Bankruptcy Court state that this is how much nearly 9000 noteholders are owed.

Woodbridge Wealth sells the following investments: first positions in commercial mortgages, secondary market annuities, and a commercial bridge loan. However, reports InvestmentNews, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck doesn’t show any registered brokerage firm by that name.

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