March 11, 2009
Yet Another Ponzi Scheme
The SEC charged Northern California residents Anthony Vassallo and Kenneth Kenitzer for orchestrating a multi-million dollar investment fraud. Vassallo agreed to a court order freezing his assets. The SEC is seeking an emergency court order to also freeze the assets of Vassallo's company, Equity Investment Management and Trading, Inc. (EIMT). According to the SEC's complaint, Vassallo and Kenitzer raised more than $40 million from about 150 investors from approximately May 2004 to November 2008. Vassallo told investors, many of whom he met through his church, that he had a proprietary computer software program that allowed him to buy and sell stock options and generate returns of 3.5 percent per month with little risk of loss. The SEC alleges that Vassallo and Kenitzer instead used investors' money for unauthorized purposes, including a variety of other schemes never disclosed to investors. The SEC alleges that Vassallo and Kenitzer kept the scheme going by using money raised from new investors to pay earlier investors, a classic hallmark of a Ponzi scheme.
In addition to an emergency order freezing EIMT's assets, the SEC seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of defendants' ill-gotten gains, and financial penalties.
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