The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has obtained an asset freeze and other emergency relief to halt an ongoing securities fraud perpetrated by a former state senator and two others who bilked investors in and outside the U.S.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Florida residents Robert Dunlap and Nicole Bowdler worked with former Washington state senator David Schmidt to market and sell a purported digital asset called the “Meta 1 Coin” in an unregistered securities offering conducted through the Meta 1 Coin Trust.
The complaint alleges that the defendants made numerous false and misleading statements to potential and actual investors, including claims that the Meta 1 Coin was backed by a $1 billion art collection or $2 billion of gold, and that an accounting firm was auditing the gold assets.
The defendants also allegedly told investors that the Meta 1 Coin was risk-free, would never lose value and could return up to 224,923%.
According to the complaint, the defendants never distributed the Meta 1 Coins and instead used investor funds to pay personal expenses and funnel proceeds to two others, Pramana Capital Inc. and Peter K. Shamoun. The complaint alleges that some of the investor funds were used to buy luxury automobiles, including a $215,000 Ferrari. In all, the complaint alleges the defendants raised more than $4.3 million from more than 150 investors in and outside the U.S.
“As we allege, the defendants made audacious claims about the Meta 1 Coin and would say almost anything to separate investors from their money,” said David Peavler, Regional Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office. “Investors should always look skeptically at promoters who claim that their investment cannot lose value or that investors will receive massive returns.”
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Mark Astarita is a nationally recognized securities attorney, who represents investors, financial professionals and firms in securities litigation, arbitration and regulatory matters, including SEC and FINRA investigations and enforcement proceedings.
He is a partner in the national securities law firm Sallah Astarita & Cox, LLC, and the founder of The Securities Law Home Page - SECLaw.com, which was one of the first legal topic sites on the Internet. It went online in 1995 and is updated daily with news, commentary and securities law related links.