Articles Tagged with Ponzi Scheme

According to SEC filings, GPB Automotive Portfolio LP entered into an agreement with Group 1 Automotive, Inc. on September 12, 2021, to sell Prime Automotive for $880 million, consisting of 30 car dealerships and three collision centers located in the Northeast of the United States.  According to a press release issued by Group 1 Automotive, Inc., the Prime Automotive dealerships generated $1.8 billion in annual revenues in 2020.

The future of GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP remains uncertain. Investors of GPB Automotive Portfolio LP are encouraged to act now and contact a securities arbitration law firm for a free consultation and review of their legal rights.

Iorio Altamirano LP is a securities arbitration law firm that represents GPB Automotive.  

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.

August 24, 2021 – This morning, investors of GPB Automotive Portfolio LP woke up to more worrisome news, as the Wall Street Journal reported that the GPB Capital Holdings LLC, is looking to sell its largest dealership group, Prime Automotive, raising speculation that the GPB Automotive is running out of cash.

The latest news follows GPB Automotive’s regulatory filings in May 2021 that disclosed that there was substantial doubt that the business would survive, and July 2021 that disclosed that the Partnership was able to obtain a financing agreement with M&T Bank, but that the Partnership only had sufficient liquidity to meet its financial obligations through July 21, 2022.

In its latest regulatory filing, on August 16, 2021, GPB Automotive disclosed that it might sell dealerships to provide operational liquidity.  According to the Wall Street Journal, such sales may be priced below fair value and go on the book as losses.

On August 13, 2021, a FINRA arbitration panel in New York, New York, ruled in favor of a brokerage customer that invested in GPB Automotive Portfolio LP and GPB Waste Management LP at the recommendation of his financial advisor at Hightower Securities, LLC.

The arbitration panel ordered Hightower Securities, LLC to refund $163,201 to the customer in exchange for a return of the limited partnership interests, essentially making the customer whole. The customer had purchased the limited partnership interests for $170,000 and had previously received $6,799 from the investments as a return of capital.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is investigating claims on behalf of defrauded investors who were victims in the GPB funds scheme. The GPB funds were marketed to independent broker-dealers and investment advisers who would, in turn, sell the GPB funds to their retail investors.

On Friday, May 14, 2021, GPB Capital Holdings LLC (“GPB Capital”), a private equity firm based in New York, registered some units in its GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP (“GPB Automotive”) with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  As part of its filing, GPB Automotive disclosed that it had substantial doubt of its ability to continue operations.  Specifically, GPB Automotive made the following risk factor disclosures to investors and potential investors:

  • We have determined that there is substantial doubt as to our ability to continue as a going concern, due to the expiration of the credit facility for the majority of our dealerships within 12 months, as well as certain other factors. Our inability to extend the maturity of our credit facility, or replace the credit facility, prior to its maturity in February 2022 would materially adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and business operations.
  • We may not have adequate funds to complete future capital improvement programs or to make additional acquisitions.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is currently investigating MSC – BD, LLC, and veteran stockbroker Robert Fehrman for recommending that clients invest in private placement securities issued by GPB Capital.  Mr. Fehrman and MSC – BD, LLC are currently the subject of a customer dispute related to his recommendation of GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP, one of the private placement funds issued by GPB Capital.

The GPB funds, which are private securities offerings exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are inherently risky investments.  These investments are suitable only for highly sophisticated investors who understand the risks and can afford a significant monetary loss.  Unfortunately, many brokerage firms and brokers sold the GPB Capital securities to retirees and unsophisticated investors because they paid a high up-front commission.

Bob Fehrman has been registered as a financial consultant with MSC – BD, LLC in Cumming, Georgia, since June 2013.  According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Fehrman is located in Florissant, Missouri.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is currently investigating former Axiom Capital Management, Inc. broker Michael Packman, who reportedly recommended that his customers invest in private placement securities issued by GPB Capital. The GPB notes, which are private securities offerings exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are inherently risky investments.  These investments are suitable only for highly sophisticated investors who understand the risks and can afford a significant monetary loss.  Unfortunately, many brokerage firms and brokers sold the GPB Capital securities to retirees and unsophisticated investors because they paid a high up-front commission.

Mr. Packman was a broker at Axiom Capital Management, Inc. in Westbury, New York, from May 2015 to March 2018. Before he joined Axiom Capital Management, Inc. in 2018, he was associated with several disreputable brokerage firms, including Financial West Group and Continental Broker-Dealer Corp., both of which were expelled from the industry by FINRA.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is also investigating the sales practices and due diligence of Axiom Capital Management, Inc. related to its sale of GPB Capital funds.   It is believed, according to reports, that Axiom Capital Management, Inc. has been subjected to numerous lawsuits from customers in the form of FINRA securities arbitration claims to recover investment losses.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is currently investigating former MML Investor Services, LLC broker Oscar Francis, who reportedly recommended that his customers invest in private placement securities issued by GPB Capital. The GPB notes, which are private securities offerings exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are inherently risky investments.  These investments are suitable only for highly sophisticated investors who understand the risks and can afford a significant monetary loss.  Unfortunately, many brokerage firms and brokers sold the GPB Capital securities to retirees and unsophisticated investors because they paid a high up-front commission.

Mr. Francis was a broker at MML Investors Services, LLC, Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, from July 2008 to May 2017. At that time, MML terminated his employment connected with an investigation into an undisclosed outside business activity, selling away, and an unauthorized non-securities life insurance transaction.  In August 2018, Mr. Francis pleaded guilty to wire fraud after admitting that between June 25, 2012, and May 31, 2017, he devised a scheme to defraud at least eleven investors out of approximately $665,000.  Mr. Francis was subsequently sentenced to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay over $420,000 in restitution to clients.   In May 2019, he was also barred by the SEC from association from associating with any broker, dealer, or investment advisor.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is also investigating the sales practices and due diligence of MML Investors Services, LLC related to its sale of GPB Capital funds.   It is believed, according to reports, that MML has been subjected to numerous lawsuits from customers in the form of FINRA securities arbitration claims to recover investment losses.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is currently investigating former Coastal Equities, Inc. broker Kevin Canterbury who is facing three securities arbitration claims related to recommendations to invest in Direct Participation Program and Limited Partnership interests, believed to be private placement securities issued by GPB Capital. Kevin Canterbury operated his own independent advisory firm, Redstone Capital.

The GPB notes, which are private securities offerings exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are inherently risky investments.  These investments are suitable only for highly sophisticated investors who understand the risks and can afford a significant monetary loss.  Unfortunately, many brokerage firms and brokers sold the GPB Capital securities to retirees and unsophisticated investors because they paid a high up-front commission.

Mr. Canterbury was a broker at Coastal Equities, Inc. from 2012 until 2020.  Iorio Altamirano LLP is also investigating the sales practices and due diligence of Coastal Equities, Inc. related to its sale of GPB Capital funds.   Earlier this year, the SEC charged three people and their affiliated entities with running a “Ponzi-like scheme” that raised more than $1.7 billion by selling private placements issued by alternative asset management firm GPB Capital Holdings.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has barred stockbroker Rhett Douglas Bedwell from the securities industry.  Mr. Bedwell was expelled from the brokerage industry for refusing to cooperate with a FINRA investigation in whether Mr. Bedwell moved a client’s IRA to a different administrator and used forged documentation to invest the client’s money into a Ponzi Scheme.

Mr. Bedwell was a financial advisor with LPL Financial LLC (“LPL Financial”) in Rodgers, Arkansas, from November 2017 until his employment ended in August 2019.  On September 9, 2020, LPL Financial disclosed that Mr. Bedwell had been identified in a pending customer arbitration alleging that in 2019, he moved a client’s IRA to a different administrator and used forged documentation to invest the client’s money into a Ponzi Scheme.

Before his employment with LPL Financial, Mr. Bedwell was a financial advisor at Arvest Wealth Management in Bentonville, Arkansas, from July 2015 until November 2017.

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