The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday fraud charges in the investigation of a Ponzi scheme run by the now-defunct real estate investment firm Woodbridge Group of Cos. in Sherman Oaks.
Former Woodbridge executives Ivan Acevedo of Chatsworth and Dane Roseman of Encino were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and other violations of federal law for their roles in allegedly bilking investors out of more than $1 billion, as was Woodbridge owner Robert Shapiro.
Although Acevedo and Roseman were not registered with the SEC, they allegedly raised more than $1.2 billion from 8,400 investors, many of them seniors, who were led to believe their money would be used for high-interest real estate loans. Instead, funds from new investors were used to pay interest and dividends to established investors, as well as to bankroll lavish lifestyles for Shapiro and others, according to the SEC.
The SEC complaint claims Acevedo and Roseman together received more than $3 million in compensation for these fraudulent transactions and charges them with violating the securities registration, broker-dealer registration and anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws. It seeks court-ordered injunctions, return of the allegedly ill-gotten gains with interest and additional financial penalties for the two.
“Instead of telling investors the truth – that Woodbridge’s third-party lending business was a sham almost from inception – we allege that Acevedo and Roseman worked diligently to perpetuate this sham by preparing and disseminating false marketing materials to induce more investments, keeping this massive Ponzi scheme afloat,” Eric Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, said in a statement.
Acevedo and Roseman have been released on bond, while Shapiro remains in custody.
Woodbridge collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2017. The SEC previously charged the company, Shapiro and 13 top-earning brokers for the scheme, and ordered Woodbridge, Shapiro and related parties to pay back $1 billion.
The SEC investigation remains ongoing.