Four investment advisors have been charged with fraud for soliciting senior citizens with free dinner investment seminars in Florida and then pitching them false information about investments, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Monday.
The SEC alleges that Philadelphia residents Joseph Andrew Paul and John D. Ellis Jr. lied about the track record of their investment advisory firm when pitching their investments at the seminars. They recruited James S. Quay of Atlanta and Donald H. Ellison of Palm Bay, Fla., to help them lure potential victims with promises of lofty returns, the SEC says.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Paul and Ellis created fraudulent marketing materials, including some with performance numbers that were taken directly from another firm’s website. The complaint further says that Quay and Ellison used these materials to mislead seniors who responded to their mass-mailing offer of a free dinner at a Tampa restaurant.
They raised $3.9 million from a dozen investors through their firm Paul-Ellis Investment Associates LLC, the SEC complaint says.
“As we allege in our complaint, a large portion of the money was never invested but instead was split among these self-described investment experts whose only real expertise was stealing other people’s money,” says Sharon Binger, director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Quay used an alias, Stephen Jameson, to conceal his true identity from potential victims. Quay was previously convicted of tax fraud in 2005 and found liable for securities fraud in a 2012 SEC enforcement action.