A Florida investment firm manager treated $17 million of his investors’ money as “his personal piggy bank,” the SEC charges.

Elm Tree Investment Advisors LLC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and its manager, Frederic Elm, have been charged with fraud by the SEC, the agency announced Wednesday.

Also charged were three related funds, Elm Tree Investment Fund LP, Elm Tree “e”Conomy Fund LP, and Elm Tree Motion Opportunity LP. The complaint was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida last week.

It charges Elm, formerly known as Frederic Elmalah, the unregistered advisory firm and the three funds misled investors and used most of the money raised to make Ponzi-like payments to the investors.

The complaint alleges that Elm also treated the funds as his personal piggy bank, enabling him to buy a $1.75 million home, luxury automobiles, and jewelry, and to cover daily living expenses.

“Elm misled investors about how he and his funds would use the investors’ money and about how much he charged them in fees,” says Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami regional office. “As a result, Elm was able to wrongfully take millions of dollars from investors without their knowledge.”

The SEC is seeking relief for investors, including the return of allegedly ill-gotten gains, with interest, and financial penalties. The SEC has been granted a temporary restraining order and temporary asset freeze against Elm, his firm, and the three Elm Tree funds.