A Sarasota, Fla., company that supposedly was going to sell pet memorial products and the man who served as the company’s founder and CEO have settled a complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission charging them with a $2.3 million fraud, the SEC announced Monday.
Russell Haraburda and EnviraTrends Inc. engaged in a fraudulent scheme between 2009 and 2014 to sell EnviraTrends securities to the public in unregistered offerings based on false statements about the company’s activities and financial condition, the SEC says.
Instead of using the money from investors to start the company, Haraburda used most of it for personal mortgage payments, alimony, shopping sprees and travel, the SEC says. Haraburda assured investors their money was being used to build the company.
EnviraTrends filed false reports with the SEC, according to the complaint filed in Federal District Court in Orlando, Fla. Haraburda concealed his misappropriations by falsely stating to auditors that the company owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus creating a pretext for his personal use of investors’ funds.
In addition, after the SEC's investigation began, Haraburda in 2014 created sham promissory notes purporting to show that he intended to repay the amounts he had misappropriated, according to the SEC.
Without admitting or denying guilt, Haraburda agreed to being barred from the financial industry. An order for disgorgement of $2.3 million was waived because of Haraburda’s financial condition and because he and EnviraTrends agreed to pay $150,000, the SEC says.