Caution: Financial gurus promising wealth generation through “God’s way” could be dangerous as hell.
Three California businessmen allegedly stole money from investors after promising them ‘indestructible wealth’ as part of a religion-based, $14 million real estate scheme, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC has filed civil fraud charges against Paul Ricky Mata, David Kayatta and Mario Pincheira and has obtained an asset freeze and a preliminary injunction against the trio, accusing them of using investor proceeds for their own use and diverting money to unrelated businesses.
The asset freeze and a preliminary injunction came before they were scheduled to hold a three-day “Indestructible Wealth Bootcamp” in Los Angeles next month that has been advertised on Mata’s personal website. The SEC said it hopes the fraud charges will prevent the businessmen from soliciting further investments or spending additional money.
In a complaint unsealed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the SEC seeks payment of disgorgement and yet-to-be-determined civil penalties, in addition to whatever additional relief may be deemed appropriate.
In a concurrent action, the California Department of Business Oversight filed a $20 million securities lawsuit in state courts.
The SEC claims that Mata, of Upland, Calif., led the scam through his companies Secured Capital Investments, Logos Wealth Advisors, Lifetime Enterprises and Logos Real Estate Holdings.
Mata, Kayata and Pincheira allegedly raised $14 million from more than 100 investors for two unregistered real estate funds. The trio solicited investors through online videos posted to Mata’s website and YouTube channel with titles such as “Finances God’s Way” and “Indestructible Wealth.”
The videos allegedly encouraged retirees to sell their existing securities holdings and invest in the funds, which falsely guaranteed promising returns, according to the SEC. The funds have never made a profit, the complaint said.
The SEC claims that Mata and Kayatta promised returns for one of the funds despite having been previously sanctioned by a state regulator for making guarantees, then diluted the value of investments of the other fund by allowing in new investors, despite being questioned by their accountant and attorney about doing so.