The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportedly has settled charges against the operators of a real estate investment business that caused millions in loses to investors. Up to 300 investors may have lost money on interests in a fund known as Alaska Financial Company III, LLC (“AFC III”), which two individuals named Tobias Preston and Charles Preston sold to investors via their company McKinley Mortgage Co. LLC (“McKinley”).
The SEC accused defendants of falsely portraying AFC III as a safe investment and reporting that it had profitable operations. However, according to the SEC, in reality AFC III was insolvent and unable to make interest payments as they came due. According to the SEC, although a portion of the raised funds were invested as promised to investors, Messrs. Preston and McKinley diverted millions of dollars in proceeds of outside investments to fund business and personal expenses as well as McKinley’s operations.
AFC III has made so-called Form D filings with the SEC since 2013 stating that AFC III qualifies for an exemption from registration of its securities offering under Rule 506(c), which allows for general solicitation of investors, such as through AFC III’s website and social media platforms, but limits sales to accredited investors. As a general rule, offers of securities to the public (which includes offers made over the internet) must be registered with the SEC under the Securities Act of 1933. However, under federal securities law, the SEC recognizes certain instances where companies seeking to raise capital are exempt from registering securities. Securities offerings exempt from registration are sometimes referred to as “private placements.” AFC III sought to be treated as exempt from registration by the SEC and was marketed as a private placement.