On August 20, 2021, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed an emergency action to stop a fraudulent Ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated by Marietta, Georgia resident John Woods and two entities he controls: registered investment adviser Livingston Group Asset Management Company, d/b/a Southport Capital (“Southport”), and investment fund Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC.
The complaint alleged that John Woods has been running a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade. At the end of July 2021, Woods and Southport have raised more than $110 million from over 400 investors in 20 states by offering and selling membership units in Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC (“Horizon”).
Many of the victims are elderly retirees preyed upon by investment advisers at Southport Capital (“Southport”), a registered investment advisory firm owned and controlled by Woods. According to the SEC’s complaint, Woods, Southport, and other Southport investment adviser representatives allegedly told investors that their Horizon investments were safe and they would receive returns of 6-7% interest, guaranteed for two to three years. Investors were also allegedly told that they could get their principal back without penalty after a short waiting period.