1300 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007-2996

 

 

Main: (602) 542-4242

Email: SecuritiesDiv@azcc.gov

Ask and Check
Before You Invest!

newsicon_75390853

in Brief   

Corporation Commission Announces Top Investor Threats for 2021

For Immediate Release | 3-3-2021

Media Contact | Nick Debus

Direct |  602-542-0728

E-Mail | NDebus@azcc.gov

PHOENIX - In recognition of Consumer Protection Week, the Corporation Commission today reminded Arizonans to be on the lookout for investment schemes pitched online through social media platforms—particularly those in precious metals, cryptocurrencies, promissory notes and foreign currency exchange markets. 

Schemes related to these investment products were identified as the top threats facing investors this year in a survey by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the Corporation Commission is a member. The survey includes responses of enforcement officials with state and provincial securities regulators throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The survey found fraudulent internet- or social media-based frauds as the top threat to investors. Ranked second are cryptocurrency-related and precious metals-based investments, especially those purchased through self-directed individual retirement accounts since they lack the services and protection of traditional IRAs, which can be fertile soil for scammers. Foreign currency exchange (FOREX)-related schemes rounded out the top three investor threats.

In particular, the Commission’s Securities Division expects to see a resurgence of high-yield foreign exchange and cryptocurrency-related schemes targeting investors this year cleverly disguised as a membership interest or an investment program.

The NASAA survey indicated that 82 percent of state securities regulators anticipate fraudsters will continue to attempt to leverage investor fear and anxiety related to changes in financial markets and the economy due to COVID-19 to illegally sell securities this year.

“Unscrupulous individuals always try to leverage vulnerabilities wherever they can be found. We expect to see an uptick in complaints from investors lured into programs offering the promise of high returns to supplement income lost due to the pandemic,” said Chairwoman Lea Márquez Peterson.

Investment offers that sound “too good to be true” often share similar characteristics. The most common telltale sign of an investment scam is an offer of guaranteed high returns with little to no risk. All investments carry the risk that some, or all, of the invested funds could be lost.

“Anyone who says their investment offer has no risk is not being honest,” Chairwoman Lea Márquez Peterson said. “Get-rich schemes are built on empty promises and empty pockets.”

Before making any investment decision, the Corporation Commission urges investors to do their homework by asking questions and verifying the answers with an objective resource not associated with the investment. Most importantly, investors should always ask and check with a securities regulator if the salesperson and the investment are registered to be offered or sold in Arizona.

License/registration status and potential disciplinary history of the investment promoter can be confirmed by the duty officer in the Commission’s Securities Division by telephone at 602-542-0662 or by email, SecuritiesDiv@azcc.gov. Other helpful tips and guidelines on wise investing and fraud prevention can be found at  www.azcc.gov/azinvestor.

August 7, 2019
Idaho Man and his Company Sold Unregistered Promissory Notes

The Corporation Commission ordered Roland B. Woolsey of Idaho and his affiliated company, Skytrace, Inc., to pay $142,500 in restitution and $10,000 in administrative penalties for offering and selling unregistered promissory notes. Woolsey and Skytrace, Inc. were seeking to raise $10 million in order to market a web-based inventory application but are not registered to offer or sell securities in Arizona.

In settling this matter, the respondents neither admit nor deny the Commission’s findings, but agree to the entry of the consent order. All documents relating to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission's online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number S-21055A-18-0309.

July 11, 2019
Commission Finds Phoenix Man Defrauded Hispanic Christians with Promissory Notes

The Corporation Commission ordered Jaime A. Verdugo of Phoenix to pay $381,954 in restitution and a $20,000 administrative penalty for committing securities fraud. The Commission found Mr. Verdugo was not registered to offer or sell securities in Arizona when he solicited multiple promissory note investors, most of whom were from Hispanic Christian communities. The Commission found Jaime A. Verdugo told investors, on behalf of Verdugo Enterprises, LLC, that their money was going to purchase home decor products to fulfill online orders.However, the Commission found Mr. Verdugo mislead investors by stating their money was safe while knowing at least eight prior investors did not receive any investment returns. Also, the Commission found Jaime A. Verdugo failed to inform investors about the company’s unwritten policy to limit payouts to $6,000 every two weeks, which is contrary to the explicit terms of the promissory notes.

All documents relating to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission's online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number S-21064A-18-0402.

June 11, 2019
Commissioners sanction Laveen man for unlawful sale of securities

The Corporation Commission ordered Carlton Lamont Fox of Laveen, Arizona, and his affiliated company to pay $15,200 in restitution and a $5,000 administrative penalty for participating in the unlawful offer and sale of unregistered securities while not being registered as an Arizona securities salesman or dealer. The Commission found at least 17 investors were promised a return on their initial investment within 3-6 months, funding either the purchase of leads for prospective businesses that were interested in credit card reader terminals or for the purchase of the terminals that would be subsequently sold to interested businesses. The Commission found that Fox and his affiliated company, Fox First Services, LLC, participated in the unlawful sale of securities as an unregistered salesperson or dealer. Further, the Commission found that none of the investors received a full return of their original investment, and that Fox used some of the money to pay telemarketers for their work in soliciting investor funds. In settling this matter, respondents neither admitted nor denied the Commission findings, but agreed to the entry of the Commission's consent order.

All documents relating to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission's online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number S-21059A-18-0345.

June 11, 2019
Commissioners order more than $2 million in restitution to restore investors

Arizona resident Adam W. Child agreed to pay $2,014,592 in restitution and a $25,000 administrative penalty for selling promissory notes and LLC membership interests to investors. The Corporation Commission found that Child offered and sold notes and membership interests to at least 17 investors of Titan Funding Group I, LLC and Titan Capital Real Estate Fund I, LLC. The Commission found the investor funds were pooled to lend money to real estate developers who were to purchase and "flip" residential properties. However, the Commission found that Mr. Child violated the Securities Act's antifraud provisions when he failed to disclose to investors a previous judgment against him, that he had declared bankruptcy and that his prior mortgage-lending business had its license revoked.

In settling this matter, the respondent agreed to the entry of the consent order and admitted to the Commission's findings only for purposes of the administrative proceeding. All documents relating to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission's online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number S-21054A-18-0301.

May 15, 2019 
Densco Investment Corporation Investors to Receive Additional Restitution 

Last week, investors of DenSco Investment Corporation were awarded a second monetary distribution for losses incurred as a result of their investment in a fraudulent company. On May 10, 2018, Maricopa County Superior Court approved the receiver’s motion to provide a second distribution in the amount of $2.5 million to DenSco Investment Corporation investors. This comes on the heels of a decision by the court in December 2017 where the receiver’s first motion was approved and $4.5 million was distributed to investors.

DenSco Investment Corporation was a real estate investment firm based in Chandler, Arizona that ceased doing business in 2016. The company was obtaining loans against hundreds of properties that were never actually purchased. As a result of this fraud, action was brought against the company by the Arizona Corporation Commission for violations of the Arizona Securities Act. Due to the death of the sole owner of the corporation, a receiver was appointed by the court in 2016. A receiver is a person appointed by the court to take possession and charge of designated assets or property and to administer them in accordance with court directives.

To date, DenSco Investment Corporation investors have been awarded roughly $7 million in distributions approved by the court. The receiver continues to recover assets and claims on behalf of the receivership and believes that more funds will be available for distribution at a later date.

                                                                     

 

Stay Connected


Arizona Corporation Commission

1200 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Corporations Division

1300 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Tucson Office (Walk-ins only)

400 W. Congress Street

Tucson, AZ 85701