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SEC Charges Operators of Woodbridge with Running $1.2 Billion Ponzi Scheme

investing in real estate and hard money loansOn December 21, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) formally announced charges, as well as an asset freeze, against the Woodbridge Group of Companies (“Woodbridge”) and its related unregistered investment funds, as well against Woodbridge’s owner and former CEO, Robert Shapiro.  Through initiating litigation (the “Complaint”) in Florida federal court, the SEC is alleging, in sum and substance, that “[D]efendant Robert H. Shapiro used his web of more than 275 Limited Liability Companies to conduct a massive Ponzi scheme raising more than $1.22 billion from over 8,400 unsuspecting investors nationwide through fraudulent unregistered securities offerings.”  As further alleged in the Complaint, “Despite receiving over one billion dollars in investor funds, Shapiro and his companies only generated approximately $13.7 million in interest income from truly unaffiliated third-party borrowers.  Without real revenue to pay the monies due to investors, Shapiro resorted to fraud, using new investor money to pay the returns owed to exiting investors.”

According to Mr. Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, “Our complaint alleges that Woodbridge’s business model was a sham.  The only way Woodbridge was able to pay investors their dividends and interest payments was through the constant infusion of new investor money.”

If you are have invested in Woodbridge Wealth or in any of the Woodbridge Mortgage Funds, you may have questions concerning your rights in light of Woodbridge’s recent bankruptcy filing and the SEC’s recent Complaint alleging that Woodbridge is, in fact, a Ponzi Scheme.

Investors who purchased Woodbridge First Position Commercial Mortgages (“FPCMs”) through a stockbroker or financial advisor may have viable FINRA arbitration claims if the brokerage firm or Registered Investment Advisor (“RIA”) did not perform adequate due diligence before recommending the Woodbridge investment.

Some of the issuers of Woodbridge securities include the following entities:

  • WMF Management, LLC (“WMF”);
  • Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC (d/b/a Woodbridge Wealth);
  • Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 1, LLC;
  • Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 2, LLC;
  • Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 3, LLC;
  • Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 3A, LLC;
  • Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 4, LLC;
  • Woodbridge Commercial Bridge Loan Fund 1, LLC;
  • Woodbridge Commercial Bridge Loan Fund 2, LLC.

As members and associated persons of FINRA, brokerage firms and their financial advisors must ensure that adequate due diligence is performed on any investment that is recommended to investors – including private placements under Regulation D.  Further, firms and their brokers must ensure that investors are informed of the risks associated with an investment, and must conduct a suitability analysis to determine if an investment meets an investor’s stated investment objectives and risk profile.  Either an unsuitable recommendation to purchase an investment or a misrepresentation concerning the nature and characteristics of the investment may give rise to a claim against a stockbroker or financial advisor.

If you have invested in any of the Woodbridge Funds, or otherwise purchased a First Position Commercial Mortgage through investing in a Woodbridge promissory note, you may be able to recover investment losses in FINRA arbitration.  To find out more about your legal rights and options, contact a securities arbitration attorney at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. at (866) 966-9598 or for a no-cost, confidential consultation.

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