The accounting scandal at American Realty Capital Properties Inc. is threatening to upend a real estate empire built by Nicholas Schorsch in an industry where reputation propels growth.

The disclosure last week that accounting errors were intentionally concealed at the real estate investment trust, leading to the resignation of two executives, has erased almost $4 billion in market value, sparked an FBI investigation and a review by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It also is leading some brokers to halt sales tied to Schorsch’s AR Capital LLC, the biggest sponsor of nontraded REITs.

The accounting mistakes are weighing on other parts of the web of companies created by Schorsch, the 53-year-old chairman of New York-based American Realty Capital Properties and its chief executive officer until last month. The REIT now faces the challenge of regaining investors’ trust, as does AR Capital, which uses brokers to sell shares to individual investors who only need Google to find the recent travails.

“It’s the intentional nature of the error” that raises concern, said Kevin Gannon, president and managing director at Robert A. Stanger & Co., a Shrewsbury, New Jersey-based investment bank that compiles data on nontraded REITs. “This industry is all about credibility. People will raise money for you, but they have to be confident that you’re a straight shooter. We hope they demonstrate that this is an isolated incident.”

Schorsch wasn’t available for comment, according to a spokesman for AR Capital. Andy Merrill, a spokesman for American Realty Capital Properties, didn’t respond to an e-mail sent yesterday afternoon.

Nontraded REITs

Schorsch, whose fortune grew from his family’s Pennsylvania scrap-metal business, established himself in the $60 billion-plus industry for nonlisted REITs, which don’t trade shares on stock exchanges and mainly attract money from mom-and-pop investors who want to avoid the volatility of the stock market. AR Capital sponsors more than a dozen investment offerings, according to its website.