On April 11, 2019, the SEC announced that it charged two former directors of investments at Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC for their roles in its massive Ponzi scheme. According to the SEC, the defendants, California-based Ivan Acevedo (“Acevedo”) and Dane R. Roseman (“Roseman”), were separately arrested and charged by criminal authorities, along with Woodbridge owner Robert H. Shapiro.
The SEC previously charged Woodbridge and Shapiro, and Woodbridge’s highest-earning unregistered brokers. In January, a federal court in Florida ordered Woodbridge, related companies, and Shapiro together to pay $1 billion for operating this Ponzi scheme.
According to the SEC’s complaint, although Acevedo and Roseman were not registered in any capacity with the SEC, they were responsible for fraudulently raising at least $1.2 billion from more than 8,400 retail investors, many of them seniors, and together received more than $3 million in transaction-based and other compensation.
According to the SEC, the complaint, filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleged that Acevedo oversaw Woodbridge’s fundraising for Woodbridge’s securities from 2012 until his departure in 2015, when he was succeeded by Roseman. According to the complaint, the defendants were responsible for hiring and training Woodbridge’s sales force, approved fraudulent marketing materials and sales scripts, and helped create the false appearance that Woodbridge was a legitimate operation when in reality it was a Ponzi scheme that used money from new investors to pay existing investors.
The SEC’s complaint charged Acevedo and Roseman with violating the securities registration, broker-dealer registration, and anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and seeks disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains, with interest, and financial penalties.
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has issued an Investor Alert to help seniors identify signs of investment fraud and, in conjunction with the Division of Enforcement’s Retail Strategy Task Force, another Investor Alert about Ponzi schemes targeting seniors. The SEC strongly encourages investors to use the agency’s Investor.gov website to check the backgrounds of people selling them investments to quickly identify whether they are registered professionals.