The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed an emergency action and obtained a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against two Florida men and the two companies they control in connection with an alleged $6 million Ponzi scheme that has defrauded senior citizens and small business owners.

According to the SEC's complaint, Neil Burkholz, 82, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Frank Bianco, 70, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., since at least 2014 have knowingly operated a fraudulent investment scheme that has raised more than $6 million from at least 55 investors, many of whom are senior citizens.

The complaint alleges that the men falsely represent themselves as advisors and fiduciaries who will profitably manage investor assets. Instead, through at least two investment management companies—Palm Management and Shore Management—the men have knowingly misappropriated investor assets by diverting them to pay other investors and by transferring approximately $880,000 of investor funds to themselves and their spouses. They have invested less than half of the funds that they solicited, investments that have resulted in near-total losses caused by risky options trading, the complaint said.

Burkholz’s wife, Rhoda, 77, received at least $157,564 in investor proceeds from the alleged securities fraud without any legitimate claim to the funds, and Bianco’s wife, Suzanne, 69, received at least $55,727.

The complaint said the men sent false reports to investors to conceal their fraudulent conduct and gave the investors the false impression they were generating positive returns.

The scheme is ongoing, the SEC said. The men continue to seek investor funds on the basis of misrepresentations and deceptive acts, and they continue to divert investor assets to earlier investors and to their personal use. So far in 2019, they have raised over $1.49 million. The complaint said in September they scammed $123,000 from a new 70-year-old investor whose entire investment they promptly misappropriated.

The SEC's complaint, which names Rhoda Burkholz and Suzanne Bianco as relief defendants, was filed in federal court in Miami on November 14 and unsealed Monday. It charges the defendants with securities fraud and seeks certain emergency relief as well as permanent injunctions, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest and civil penalties.