Meyer Wilson Investigates Investment Adviser John Woods for “Horizon Private Equity” Ponzi Scheme

John Woods (CRD # 1949233) is a former investment adviser with Southport Capital and Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. Woods has been accused by federal regulators with engaging in a ponzi scheme, called “Horizon Private Equity,” that took $110M from 400 investors in 20 states between 2008 and 2021.

What is a Ponzi Scheme and How did “Horizon Private Equity” Work?

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment scheme that promises high returns to investors, often without a legitimate underlying business or investment strategy. The scheme relies on using funds from new investors to pay returns to earlier investors, creating the illusion of profit. As long as new investments keep coming in, the scheme appears to work, but it inevitably collapses when there aren't enough new investors to sustain the payouts. This leaves later investors with substantial losses, while the orchestrator of the scheme siphons off funds for personal gain.

Along with his brother, Jim Woods, and others including Michael Mooney, Arthur Brown, Penny Flippen, and Britt Wright, Woods orchestrated the “Horizon Private Equity” Ponzi scheme by targeting elderly investors with the promise of 6-7% annual returns that were safe. Investors were told that they would be able to get their principal back without any penalty. In its complaint, the SEC found that these claims were patently false, that Woods lied to investigators, and that the scheme failed to generate legitimate profits. Consequently, returns to early investors were paid with the funds from new investors resulting in enormous losses to investors.  

Customer Disputes Filed Against John Woods

According to John Woods’s BrokerCheck report, he has an astounding 54 public disclosures, with 53 coming since August 2021 which relate to the “Horizon Private Equity” Ponzi scheme. Of the 53 disclosures related to the Ponzi scheme, 28 have already been settled for large six- and seven-figure totals. 

Settled disputes against John Woods related to the Horizon Private Equity Ponzi scheme include:

If you believe that you were a victim of John Woods or the Horizon Private Equity Ponzi scheme, you need to speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you determine your legal options.

Your Rights If You Sustained Losses Related to Broker Misconduct

If you were the victim of this Ponzi scheme, you have the right to an attorney. You have the right to pursue a claim for damages against any and all liable parties. You also have the right to hold wrongful parties accountable for their misconduct. 

Did You Suffer Losses After Investing with John Woods?

At Meyer Wilson, we represent investors who have suffered losses due to investment fraud or broker misconduct. Our lawyers have secured over $350 million on behalf of clients nationwide. We have represented over a thousand investors and will fight for you and your family.

If you sustained losses after investing with John woods or another broker accused of wrongdoing, you need to contact our office to schedule a free consultation. Call (866) 761-1981 to speak directly with an experienced investment fraud lawyer.

We have decades of combined legal experience and are nationally recognized for our successful litigation and arbitration of investment fraud cases. Do not hesitate. Call now to get started.

Did You Invest With Morgan Stanley Broker Shawn E. Good?

Recently fired Morgan Stanley advisor, Shawn E. Good, of Wilmington, NC, has been accused by federal regulators of running a Ponzi Scheme. The SEC has filed a complaint in Federal Court alleging Good defrauded his clients out of more than four and a half million dollars. Promising returns of 6-10% with very low risk, the former financial advisor enticed his Morgan Stanley clients to send money directly to his bank account, misrepresenting that the funds would be used to invest in tax-free North Carolina State and Municipal Bonds and real estate developments.

What did Shawn Good Do With Investor Funds?

The investments Good promised, however, were never made. Instead, the SEC found that Good used the money from his clients, some of them retirees, to repay other victims and fund his extravagant lifestyle for nearly ten years. The SEC used bank records to identify clients’ money being used to make payments on Good’s Tesla Model 3 and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, along with nearly a million dollars in Venmo and credit card payments.

Good’s BrokerCheck Report

Good’s employer, Morgan Stanley, terminated the broker in February of 2022 for his refusal to participate in their internal investigation. He had been a registered representative for Morgan Stanley since December of 2012. In the SEC Complaint against the broker, it was reported that Good solicitated at least thirty fraudulent investments from several Morgan Stanley clients. Good appears to have targeted less sophisticated investors, encouraging them to tap into the retirement accounts they entrusted to Morgan Stanley and draw Morgan Stanley lines of credit to invest in his fraudulent scheme.

To protect investors, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has permanently barred Shawn E. Good from working in the industry again. FINRA offers an arbitration process in which victims of stockbroker misconduct perpetuated by an employee of a member brokerage firm, such as Morgan Stanley, can recover their losses.

Why Choose Meyer Wilson?

If you have been a Ponzi Scheme victim and suffered losses due to Morgan Stanley representative Shawn E. Good’s misconduct, the investor claims attorneys at Meyer Wilson would like to speak with you.

Part of what makes Meyer Wilson so unique is that we do not spread our resources thin over many different legal practice areas; nor do we take on a large caseload of investor claims cases. Investment and securities arbitrations and lawsuits require a deep understanding of the securities industry and tremendous attention to detail. Our securities fraud attorneys pour their time and extensive resources into each case that we handle for investors who have been harmed by investment misconduct.

Meyer Wilson has handled more than 1,000 investment misconduct cases nationwide against financial institutions over the past 25 years. We do not charge for case consultations and are happy to evaluate your potential legal claim for free. All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, and we never charge a retainer.

Contact us for a no-cost, no-pressure consultation to discuss your legal options.

Ponzi Scheme Clawback Actions – Forcing Victims to Right Other People’s Wrongs

Ponzi scheme’s collapse almost always leads to a bankruptcy, receivership, or some other formal liquidation proceedings.  In these proceedings, a trustee or receiver is charged with collecting as much funds as possible to pay creditors and defrauded investors.  Among the methods used to recover assets are claims against investors who received returns from the Ponzi scheme.  These claims are referred to as a “clawback actions.”

Clawback actions are incredibly controversial.  How can an innocent defrauded investor now be subject to a lawsuit from the receiver or trustee? The subjects of these suits often argue that they had no knowledge of the fraud and had every reason to believe the money they withdrew from their investment accounts was legitimate profits.  Most of the time, the money received by the defrauded investor has been spent – on a house, on college tuition payments, or on basic living expenses.  Returning the earned income to a receiver can be devastating or impossible.

The legal theory is that money received by defrauded investors came from other defrauded investors, and all investors should be on equal ground.  Clawback actions are supposed to be filed against “net winners” in a Ponzi scheme – meaning people that earned more than what they invested.  In our practice, we have seen clawback actions filed against many people who were “net losers,” subjecting them to steep legal fees just to prove they did not make any money overall in the Ponzi scheme.

The money raised in clawback actions is supposed to be divided equally among the Ponzi victims, but questions remain as to where the money actually winds up.  Bankruptcy trustees earn commission on assets recovered, and commissions and trustee legal fees are paid out of the funds raised by the trustee.  So, money from defrauded investors often goes back to pay the lawyers involved in the clawback case rather than going to the Ponzi scheme victims.

Meyer Wilson Representing Investor Victims in Madison Timber Ponzi Scheme

Arthur Lamar Adams of Mississippi pleaded guilty to orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme exceeding $100 million stolen from more than 250 investors in at least 14 states. He was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison.  Meyer Wilson currently represents victims of his scam.

Adams and his cohorts represented to investors that a company called Madison Timber Properties was in the business of buying timber rights from landowners and then selling the timber rights to lumber mills at a higher price. The object was to get people to invest in loans that purportedly were for the purpose of financing contracts for the purchase of timber rights to be sold to lumber mills at a higher price.  Madison Timber Properties did not have timber rights or contracts with lumber mills.  Instead, the money from unsuspecting investors lined the pockets of the scammers involved.

Investors were guaranteed that they could expect 12% to 15% returns on the investment they made.  To any competent financial advisor, this should have been a red flag of a probable Ponzi scheme or investment fraud.  High returns come with high risks, and if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If your financial advisor ignored the red flags and recommended you invest in Madison Timber Properties, you may be able to recover your monetary loss.  Give the investment fraud attorneys at Meyer Wilson a call today for a free case evaluation.

Emergency Freeze Against Today’s Growth Consultants For Running $75m Ponzi Like Scheme

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced that they have obtained a restraining order and filed an emergency enforcement action against Today’s Growth Consultant Inc. as well as company owner, Kenneth D. Courtright III.

Courtright was arrested on criminal fraud charges in addition to the securities fraud charges brought by the SEC. It is alleged that his company, which also did business under the name “The Income Store,” operated a Ponzi-like scheme that raised more than $75 million from over 500 investors.

What Does the SEC Complaint Say?

The SEC complaint, which was unsealed on January 14, 2020, says that Courtright and Todays Growth Consultant Inc. (TGC) promised investors high rates of return from website revenues.

TGC allegedly told investors that they would use their investment money to buy or build them a website. They then promised investors that they would develop and market the website to generate income. The SEC complaint says that TGC told investors they would use their money only for expenses related to the website. In reality, TGC was using investors’ money to make unlicensed security offerings. They were allegedly using new investors’ money to pay off old investors.

This behavior has all of the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme. Readers are likely familiar with the infamous Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme that was revealed in 2008. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is currently the biggest of all time and involved $50 billion in assets.

The SEC complaint says that TGC operated from at least 2017 through October, 2019. The associate director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, Antonia Chion, said that “TGC and Courtright’s alleged fraud promised a guaranteed return when the company’s business model and financial condition could not possibly support it.”

The SEC complaint also says that Courtright used the money from his investors to pay his mortgage as well as private school tuition for his Family.

Kenneth D. Courtright III and TGC have been charged with violations of registration provisions of the antifraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws. In addition to the temporary restraining order, and freezing assets of TGC and Courtright, the Court has appointed a receiver for TGC.

What to Do If You Were a Victim of Fraud

If you have done business with or allowed Kenneth D. Courtright III and Todays Growth Consultant Inc. (or The Income Store) to use your money for investments, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The lawyers at Meyer Wilson are ready to get you through this. Our team has a thorough understanding of Ponzi schemes, and we are ready to investigate every aspect of your case. Our goal is to secure compensation for your losses. Read more about how to recover losses after a Ponzi Scheme.

We handle all matters related to Securities Litigation in arbitration concerning investment fraud and misconduct. Even if you are not a victim of the wrongdoing by Courtright and TGC, you may suspect you are being taken advantage of by a financial or investment advisor. Sometimes, it takes the bravery of one person to come forward in these cases to break a case open. Do not hesitate to seek legal assistance to protect yourself, your family, and your valuable assets. Call (614) 532-4576 or contact us online to speak confidentially with an attorney today.

Investment Scams In 2020 You Could Be Targeted By

While a new year may have brought new resolutions for you, it also comes with investment scams that consumers need to worry about. Some of them have been around a while, but others are relatively new and gaining traction. Most financial experts will tell you that a sign that an investment opportunity may be a scam is the promise of high returns. You should also be wary of anyone who says their investment comes with no risks. Nobody can guarantee an investment return.

Watch Out for These Scams

1.      Ponzi schemes

Over the last few decades, many notorious Ponzi schemes have made the news. While many people have heard of Ponzi schemes, few actually understand the inner workings of these investment scams. With these scams, investors are paid returns from their own money or money paid by future investors rather than from actual earned revenue through investments. This is unsustainable, and a Ponzi scheme often leaves the bulk of its investors with no money at all.

2.      Promissory notes

A promissory note is a form of debt, similar to an IOU or a loan. Companies may issue these to raise money. However, fraudsters throughout the country have begun to use promissory notes as ways to defraud investors. These individuals may convince somebody that they have a legitimate and lucrative company and promise major returns when in reality, they may not have a company at all or have no plans for growth.

3.      Real estate-related investments

These scams often come in the form of real estate investing seminars that market aggressively to alternative routes of owning and making money off of real estate. Fraudsters will typically brag about how much money they have made through simple real estate investments in an attempt to get your money with the promises of the same returns. In reality, your money is what they are profiting from and you may never see any returns.

4.      Cryptocurrency-related investments products

Cryptocurrency is incredibly difficult to understand and a relatively new type of investment. Because the typical investor does not fully understand cryptocurrency, fraudsters will make wild claims about possible returns with invested money. The reality is that cryptocurrency trading is volatile and not well understood, even by financial experts. Many well-known investment agencies do not even deal with cryptocurrency, so be wary of anyone promising high crypto returns.

5.      Social media and internet-related investment schemes

It is easy to get involved in social network groups and internet groups with like-minded individuals. Many fraudsters will use these mediums looking for those who want to make investments. Fraudsters will use social media and internet groups defined people who share similar backgrounds and personal information so they can make highly specialized pitches for investment scams.

How You Can Protect Yourself

The phrase “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” rings true with investments. If you are being promised high returns with little to no risks, you are likely being scammed. Research any potential investment opportunities presented to you. Investors should determine whether investments and their sellers are registered. You would not go to an unlicensed doctor or dentist, so do not invest with any unregistered agents. If you think you have been scammed, you may need to consult with an experienced financial investment fraud lawyer about your case.

Stark County Financial Advisor Convicted on 53 Felony Counts for Operating $1.7m Ponzi Scheme

On Friday January 18, 2019, a Stark County jury returned a verdict finding former financial advisor Kimm C. Hannan guilty on all 53 felony counts of securities-related fraud he had been facing in connection to operating a Ponzi scheme. It took the presiding Judge roughly 30 minutes to read the individual verdict forms, which included multiple counts of false representations in the sale of securities, fraudulent conduct as an advisor, prohibited securities acts, and theft from an elderly individual, among others.

The verdict, delivered Friday afternoon after eight hours of jury deliberation, brings some closure to the five clients prosecutors say paid Hannan roughly $1.7 million between 2014 and 2017 under the belief that he would invest on their behalves. $800,000 of that came from one married couple.

The Scheme

As case records show, 67-year-old Hannan enjoyed great success over decades in the financial industry, but soon ran into financial problems. During closing arguments, Stark County Assistance Prosecutor Joe Vance drilled into the scope of Hannan’s scheme, telling jurors he perpetuated “nothing but a con” in which he abused investors’ trust, and used savings and retirement funds as his personal piggy bank.

In addition to funding failing business ventures, including two dry cleaner’s, a fledgling dog daycare, and an HR business, Hannan used his clients’ money on personal expenses, debts, alimony payments, and rent for an upscale apartment in downtown Canton. Evidence presented in the case also show Hannan used upwards of $100,000 in client cash to bankroll high stakes card games at local casinos.

Hannan is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday. He faces more than 300 years in prison.

The Investigation

Hannan’s criminal indictment and conviction stem from an investigation conducted by the Ohio Division of Securities, which received a tip Hannan had been orchestrating a Ponzi scheme and paying off old investors with new clients’ funds. Attorney Inspector Janice Hitzman stated Hannan’s actions constituted clear violations of Ohio securities laws, including his:

Hitzeman said that even if client funds been paid as purported “loans,” they still constituted a security and investment under the Ohio Securities Act. During a recorded interview with investigators, Hannan also admitted to spending client money without their knowledge on personal expenses, and stated clients would have never trusted him had he informed them his businesses couldn’t make payroll, let alone profit. Hitzeman testified that during the interview, Hannan also pitched investigators to invest in his latest business venture as a means to repay investors. They didn’t accept the offer.

Criminal & Civil Cases: What They Mean to Wronged Investors

Criminal cases undoubtedly provide wronged investors with the sense of justice and accountability they deserve, but they are separate and distinct from civil legal actions. Though this particular advisor has been found guilty of committing crimes, and will be sentenced accordingly, that outcome does little to provide investors with any meaningful source for recovering their losses. In order seek such recoveries, investors can turn to the civil justice system and various claims related to investment fraud and misconduct – which focus on holding bad actors accountable for their wrongful conduct, and financially liable for the damages suffered by victims.

If you have questions about a matter involving investment fraud or misconduct, Meyer Wilson is available to help. Our lawyers represent clients nationwide and offer free and confidential consultations.

10 Years after Bernie Madoff Arrest: A Look at the Largest Ponzi Scheme in History

This Tuesday December 11, 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of Bernie Madoff’s arrest for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. For many of the investors victimized by Madoff’s $19 billion fraud, this day brings more even reason to celebrate. In a bankruptcy court hearing, the trustee unwinding Madoff’s long-defunct investment advisory firm sought authorization of $419 million in distribution payments to nearly 900 accounts.

That $419 million payment brings the total payouts for wronged investors to just over $12 billion. While that figure will never approach the $45 billion in fraudulent profits claimed by Madoff on account statements, a return of that magnitude is quite rare.

In honor of this particular day, we’ve put together a few points about Madoff’s operation, where things currently stand, and what lessons we’ve learned:

While the scheme will long retain its indelible mark in the pages of history, and the name Madoff now synonymous with greed, it’s important to not forget the devastation Madoff left in his wake. From the many convictions of aides, employees, and family that followed to the tragic stories of investors who trusted Madoff’s firm, the scheme is a glaring reminder of the need to improve our systems of oversight and accountability. Though the trustee overseeing the case has made the recent payment and is currently evaluating a revival of lawsuits from overseas investors worth around $4 billion, there’s still a lot to be done, both for victims in this case, and all investors at risk of becoming the next.

Meyer Wilson: Attorneys for Investment & Securities Fraud

For investors today, it’s worth noting that Ponzi schemes didn’t cease to exist when Madoff’s particular scheme went south. These types of schemes and many other forms of investment fraud are continually perpetrated across the country, with investors paying the price. Fortunately, financial crimes do provide an opportunity for the recovery of assets by victims, and our team at Meyer Wilson is committed to helping investors nationwide make the most of this opportunity in a range of investment misconduct claims.

Financial Fraud Is on the Rise According to Officials, Scamming Billions of Dollars From Investors

It’s been nearly a decade since the $65 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernard Madoff, and while there was a temporary dip in the number of similar schemes in the wake of that massive theft, securities officials are reporting that scams are on the rise again.

The biggest case in recent years by far is the $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme operated by the Woodbridge Group of Companies, but it’s not the only one. 1st Global Capital LLC and 1st West Capital LLC were the subject of an SEC investigation after warning signs indicated that the companies were involved in a $283 million loan fraud. Neither of these schemes come close to the financial damage that Madoff’s scheme caused, but they’re part of a much larger issue facing the investment world – more of these types of schemes are popping up seemingly every day. And, a considerable number of the people attempting to take advantage of their marks are unregistered and unlicensed in the securities industry, a change from recent trends.

"The surge in cases against unregistered actors reversed a two-year trend in which registered individuals and firms in the securities industry, broker-dealers and investment advisers, had constituted the majority of respondents in state enforcement actions," according to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).

NASAA reported that 647 of the cases in 2017 involved registered brokers, a nine percent spike from 2016, while 675 cases in that year involved unregistered individuals, a 24 percent spike from the year before. On top of that, some officials are seeing another worrying trend among scammers.

"A lot of the scamsters are getting a lot smarter," said Joe Borg, director, Alabama Securities Commission. "For example, if you asked me 10 years ago, do you have a problem with lawyers, I would have said no. Now, there are a slew of cases where lawyers are roped in by the crooks. They recruit the attorney to open an LLC or create an operating agreement."

This dramatic increase in the number of reported cases of fraud is a worrying issue, and our investment fraud lawyers at Meyer Wilson are currently investigating a number of brokers and individuals accused of fraudulent actions. If you were the victim of an investment scam or fraud, contact us today by filling out our online form, or call us at (614) 532-4576 to discuss your legal options with a member of our firm.

Related Posts:

$5 Million Ponzi Scheme Defrauds Investors

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Edward Lee Moody, the owner of CM Capital Management LLC in Virginia has been charged with operating a $5 million Ponzi scheme that allegedly defrauded approximately 60 investors. The SEC has been granted a restraining order to freeze assets in more than 30 brokerage and bank accounts controlled by CM Capital Management. They are also seeking an injunction, disgorgement, and fines and penalties against Moody and CM Capital Management.

According to the SEC, Moody represented CM Capital as a successful money management firm that invested client money in securities. To support alleged profitable investments, CM Capital Management created fictitious monthly account statements for investors that showed high returns. Instead of actually investing his clients' money, Moody used it to pay off earlier investors and to fund his personal trading and expenses for a new house, a new car, exotic travel, and other luxury items. Moody created a separate company, G.E. Holdings, to receive and transfer funds from exploited investors. At least 13 of Moody's alleged Ponzi scheme victims were elderly adults who funded their investments by liquidating existing IRA accounts.

Moody launched CM Capital Management in June 1999, and his Ponzi scheme activities began in October 2009. In addition to close to $5 million in losses for investors between 2009 and 2017, Moody allegedly took more than $1.1 million from investment fraud victims in 2018.

Ponzi schemes take millions from investors. They promise low-risk investments with high returns. Rather than investing client funds, money collected from new investors is used to pay prior investors. Since Ponzi schemes have no legitimate earnings, they require a constant flow of new money to succeed. When new investors fall off or a lot of existing investors cash out, Ponzi schemes typically collapse rather quickly.

Investors who have been victimized by investment fraud may be able to recover damages, which could include investment principal, expected gains if money had been invested appropriately, arbitration costs, and attorney's fees. In cases where egregious misconduct is involved, investors may be entitled to punitive damages. Most cases against brokerage firms are handled through mandatory FINRA arbitration. For help with investment fraud loss, contact the attorneys at Meyer Wilson at (614) 532-4576 today to set up a free case consultation.

Related Posts: