SEC Awards About $110 Million and About $4,000,000 to Two Whistleblowers And Denies Award to Third WhistleblowerReality TV star sentenced for PPP fraud and for operating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme (DOJ Release)SEC Charges Unregistered Broker for Selling $22 Million in Securities to Puerto Rico Government Entities (SEC Release)Founder Of $90 Million Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund Sentenced To More Than Seven Years In Prison (DOJ Release)
Claimant 1's information was based on Claimant 1's "independent analysis," a constituent element of "original information." Specifically, Claimant 1 utilized publicly available information in a way that went beyond the information itself and afforded the Commission with important insights into the extent of Company 1's misconduct as well as other relevant conduct. Additionally, Claimant 1's information was derived from multiple sources that were not readily identified and accessed by members of the public without specialized knowledge, unusual effort, or substantial cost. Moreover, the sources that Claimant 1 cultivated collectively raised a strong inference of securities law violations that was not otherwise reasonably inferable from any of the sources individually. In all, Claimant 1's own examination, evaluation, and analysis contributed significant independent information that bridged the gap between certain publicly available information and the possible securities violations that the Commission and the Other Agency were investigating.
[(1)] Claimant 1's information, which included a detailed suggested witness list and other charts reflecting REDACTED, was important in connection with the Commission's allegations REDACTED involving Company 1 REDACTED; (2) Claimant 1's information and supporting documents saved the Commission significant time and resources; (3) Claimant 1 provided substantial, ongoing assistance to staff in the Division of Enforcement (the "Staff"), which included multiple written submissions and communications, including in-person meetings; and (4) Claimant 1 suffered personal and professional hardships as a result of Claimant 1's whistleblower activities.However, while Claimant 1's information was important, it was submitted after the Staff had already opened an investigation and after the Staff had already become aware of potential misconduct by Company 1 REDACTED . Furthermore, Claimant 1's information assisted the Staff in connection with only some of the misconduct that the Staff was investigating and which the Commission ultimately charged in the Covered Action.
From March 2013 through May 2020, Fayne ran a multistate Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 20 people who invested in his trucking business. Fayne promised that he would use the investors' money to operate the business. Instead, he used the money to pay his personal debts and expenses and to fund an extravagant lifestyle for himself. During the scheme, Fayne spent more than $5 million at a casino in Oklahoma.In April 2020, Fayne submitted a $3.7 million PPP loan application to United Community Bank, falsely claiming that his trucking business had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200. Fayne promised to use the PPP loan proceeds to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments related to his trucking business. Instead, Fayne used the PPP loan proceeds for improper purposes, including the following:
- $40,000 for past-due child support;
- $50,000 for restitution owed in a previous fraud case;
- $65,000 in cash withdrawals;
- $85,000 for custom-made jewelry;
- $136,000 to lease a Rolls-Royce;
- $230,000 to associates who helped him run a Ponzi scheme;
- $907,000 to start a new business in Arkansas.
Gorovodsky served as a financial advisor for the victim. In or about July 2019, the victim terminated that advisor relationship and revoked the power of attorney she had previously granted Gorovodsky. Approximately nine months later, Gorovodsky accessed and liquidated the victim's bank account, transferring more than $250,000 into his own bank account. Gorovodsky then used the victim's stolen retirement funds for personal expenses, including paying off more than $100,000 in federal student loans. As part of the scheme, Gorovodsky forged the victim's signature on a purported "gift letter," which he sent to the bank in an attempt to legitimize the fraudulent transfer.
[B]etween 2017 through 2020, QIN owned and controlled two cryptocurrency investment funds, Virgil Sigma and VQR, both of which were located in New York, New York. Since its creation, Virgil Sigma purported to employ a strategy to earn profits from arbitrage opportunities in the cryptocurrency market. This strategy was touted by QIN to the investing public as "market-neutral," meaning the fund was not exposed to any risk from the price of cryptocurrency moving up or down and therefore provided a relatively safe and liquid investment. Until recently, Virgil Sigma purported to have over $90 million under management from dozens of investors, including many in the United States. According to its public marketing materials, Virgil Sigma has been profitable in every month from August 2016 to the present, with the sole exception of March 2017. QIN also regularly participated in calls with Virgil Sigma investors and other forms of public communication where he touted the growth and success of Virgil Sigma. For example, in February 2018, QIN and his fund were profiled in the Wall Street Journal.In or about February 2020, QIN founded VQR. VQR employed a variety of trading strategies and was poised to make or lose money based on the fluctuations in the value of cryptocurrency and was not market neutral. QIN was the sole owner of VQR's general partner, but was not involved in VQR's day-to-day operations. Instead, VQR had its own trading staff, including a head trader (the "Head Trader") and other investment professionals. Until recently, VQR had at least approximately $24 million under management from investors.Qin's Scheme to Steal Assets from Virgil SigmaSince 2017, QIN engaged in a scheme to steal assets from Virgil Sigma and defraud its investors. Rather than investing the fund's assets in a cryptocurrency arbitrage trading strategy as advertised, QIN embezzled investor capital from Virgil Sigma and used the funds for purposes other than the purported arbitrage trading strategy, including: (a) using a substantial portion of investor capital stolen from Virgil Sigma to pay for personal expenses such as food, services, and rent for a penthouse apartment in New York City; (b) using a substantial portion of investor capital from Virgil Sigma to make personal, often illiquid investments in other entities that had nothing to do with cryptocurrencies. For example, in or about October 2018, QIN invested hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen from Virgil Sigma into a real estate investment; and (c) using a substantial portion of investor capital from Virgil Sigma to invest in crypto-assets that had nothing to do with the fund's stated arbitrage strategy. For example, in or about 2018, QIN invested funds from Virgil Sigma into certain initial coin offerings, a speculative form of investing in new issues of cryptocurrency. As a result of these and other fraudulent activities, QIN dissipated nearly all of the investor capital in Virgil Sigma. QIN also regularly lied to the fund's investors about the value, location, and status of their investment capital, including through false account statements that QIN prepared and bogus tax documents that he circulated to his investors.Qin Attempts to Steal Assets From VQR to pay Virgil Sigma InvestorsIn or about December 2020, faced with redemption requests from the Virgil Sigma fund that he could not meet, QIN demanded that the Head Trader at VQR wind down all trading positions at VQR and transfer a portion of the funds to QIN so that QIN could use that money to pay off these redemptions to Virgil Sigma investors. QIN issued the demand even though the Head Trader advised QIN that closing out VQR's then-current trading positions, rather than holding those positions in accordance with VQR's directional trading strategy, would result in losses to VQR's investors. At QIN's direction, the Head Trader accordingly closed out VQR's positions and turned over access to VQR's trading accounts to QIN. QIN subsequently attempted to take control of VQR's assets in order to enable QIN to meet certain Virgil Sigma investor redemption requests.The Virgil Sigma fund and VQR have ceased operations and the liquidation and distribution of assets is being handled by a court-appointed receiver in the matter of S.E.C. v. Qin, 20 Civ. 10849.
[I]n 2016, Roger Fidler, Thurlow, and Oravec engineered a reverse merger between Dolat Ventures, Inc. (DOLV) and a Chinese company that purportedly manufactured electric cars and batteries, and then undertook a fraudulent scheme to create false and backdated documents to make it appear that shares could be immediately sold to the investing public without filing the required registration statements with the SEC. Between March and December 2017, Thurlow's associates, Boucher and Jordan (through Western Bankers Capital), allegedly purchased tranches of the convertible debt, converted the debt to DOLV shares, and sold the shares to the public without filing the required registration statements. In addition, Thurlow and Fidler arranged for Fidler's son, Bradley, to purchase DOLV debt, convert the debt to shares, and sell them to investors without filing the required registration statements. The proceeds from the unregistered offerings was approximately $5.9 million.The SEC further alleges that, in order to ensure that DOLV's transfer agent and the brokerage firm used by Boucher and Bradley Fidler would permit the transfer and sale of the shares, the defendants obtained opinion letters from attorneys that the conversions and sale of shares would not violate the law. Thurlow, the Fidlers, Oravec, and Boucher allegedly provided false and misleading information and documents to the attorneys in order to obtain the opinion letters.
[SHE] Beverage produces beverages targeting female customers. The complaint alleges that between 2017 and 2019, SHE Beverage and its principals raised over $15 million from stock sales to more than 2,000 investors by falsely representing that they would use 30% of the offering proceeds to purchase beverage inventory. In fact, they allegedly spent only approximately 2% on inventory, and instead spent more than $7.5 million on personal expenses and unexplained cash transactions. The complaint further alleges that, lacking significant beverage sales, the company and its principals continued to raise money from investors by falsely promoting the company as being successful in a variety of ways.
The order finds that Montano used fraudulent solicitations in emails, websites, and video sales letters promising free access to purportedly successful automated trading systems that traded on behalf of clients in binary options involving commodity interests. These solicitations misrepresented hypothetical and fictitious trading results as real results, used fabricated customer testimonials, and misstated the experience, background, and skill of the "creators" of these automated trading systems.