Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

SEC Brings Enforcement Action Against Ponzi Scheme Targeting Senior Citizens

In a release written to promote its actions to protect senior citizens from fraud, the SEC announced that it asked a federal district court in Sacramento, Calif., to grant its request for an order temporarily prohibiting further sales of the products, freezing the assets, and appointing a receiver to take control of operations in order to manage and preserve remaining investor funds.  The SEC alleges that Donald Neuhaus of Redding, Calif., his daughter Kimberley Snowden, and their company Secure Investment Services, Inc., orchestrated the Ponzi scheme that falsely promised safe, secure and profitable interests in life insurance policies known as "viaticals" while failing to disclose the dire financial condition of the investment venture. Many of the investors were elderly and invested their retirement savings. The Commission also alleges the father-daughter fraudsters pocketed $700,000 for their personal use while the scam was on the verge of collapse.

The SEC's actions against frauds targeting retirees and other older investors will be a focus of the Commission's second annual Seniors Summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10. The Summit also will include the release of findings from regulatory examinations of 110 firms offering "free lunch" investment seminars aimed at seniors.

According to the Commission's complaint, Neuhaus and Snowden sold shares of life insurance policies, calling them "bonded life settlements." They persuaded investors to buy the securities by representing that their money would be used to purchase and pay the necessary premiums on the life insurance policies. They promised returns up to 125 percent when the person insured by the policy died.   

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