Securities Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, April 9, 2009

SEC Charges Georgia Attorney with Running a Ponzi Scheme

On April 9, 2009, the SEC filed a Complaint for Injunctive and Other Relief ("Complaint") in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Robert P. Copeland ("Copeland"). The Complaint sets forth a classic Ponzi scheme operated by Copeland, in which he used new investor funds to make payment obligations to earlier investors.  The Complaint alleges that from at least 2004 through January 2009 Copeland, a Georgia resident and an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Georgia, fraudulently raised over $35 million from at least 140 investors in several states, including Georgia. The Complaint further alleges that Copeland promoted investments orally and through written materials claiming to earn 15-18 percent interest per year, and claiming that investor funds would be loaned in connection with real estate transactions, including private mortgage lending. Through entities which he controlled, Copeland directed the unregistered offer and sale of promissory notes evidencing the investor loans. The notes were often collateralized by security deeds to which Copeland signed the names of fictitious persons.

The Complaint seeks (i) a permanent injunction against future violations; (ii) disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest; and (iii) imposition of civil penalties.

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