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Florida man charged over alleged $35 million Ponzi scheme which targeted churchgoers

Securities and Exchange Commission

Securities and Exchange Commission

A man has been charged in connection with a suspected $35 million Ponzi scheme which targeted 60 investors including members of a church.

Brent Seaman, of Naples Florida, faces charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly scamming investors via an unregistered securities offering.

The SEC says a number of the investors were elderly and retired, and some were even members of a church in Naples attended by Seaman.

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According to the SEC’s complaint, from June 2019 to September 2022, Seaman misled investors by promising to use their funds to invest in technology companies and to trade currencies and commodities.

He is accused of falsely assuring assured annual returns between 18 percent and 48 percent, describing the investments as “safe” and the returns as “guaranteed”.

The complaint also alleges Seaman attracted investors by boasting about his successful currency investments, despite the fact he was losing millions of investors’ money and his currency trading was consistently unprofitable.

Seaman is also accused of misappropriating millions of dollars for personal use, including the purchase of luxury cars and private plane trips.

Furthermore, Seaman allegedly made Ponzi-like payments to investors as he failed to generate sufficient profits from his trading to meet the required monthly distributions to investors.

Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, said: “As alleged in our complaint, Seaman targeted church members with false claims of success.

“This action reflects a deep commitment to pursue those who prey on vulnerable investors.”

The SEC’s complaint, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges Seaman and several Accanito entities with violating the registration provisions of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933.

It also charges Seaman, the Accanito entities, and two related entities, Accanito Capital Group and Surge LLC, with violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Seaman is also charged with violating the broker-dealer registration provisions of Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act.

The complaint seeks disgorgement with prejudgment interest from Seaman’s wife, Jana Seaman, and two affiliated entities, Valo Holdings Group, LLC and Surge Capital Ventures, LLC, that allegedly received millions in investor proceeds.

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All defendants have agreed to a bifurcated settlement, without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, pending court approval.

They will be prohibited from violating the charged provisions of the federal securities laws, and Seaman will be barred from serving as an officer or director of any SEC-reporting company.

Seaman also agreed to settle follow-on administrative proceedings based on the anticipated entry of a permanent injunction against him.

The court will decide whether it is appropriate to order them to pay disgorgement with prejudgment interest and a civil penalty. Jana Seaman has agreed to pay $757,154 in disgorgement and interest, and Valo Holdings Group has agreed to pay $668,240 in disgorgement and interest.

The SEC’s investigation was part of the Miami Regional Office’s Fraud Against Minority Groups Initiative and was conducted by Andre Zamorano, Alise Johnson, and Mark Dee in the Miami Regional Office and supervised by Thierry Olivier Desmet, Fernando Torres, and Glenn S. Gordon. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Alise Johnson under the supervision of Teresa J. Verges.

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