The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed emergency action and obtained a temporary restraining order and asset freeze to stop an alleged Ponzi scheme run by a married couple.
The defendants are Jason Dodd Bullard and Angela Romero-Bullard from Shakopee, Minnesota, and the entity they control, Bullard Enterprises.
The regulator included four other entities in its action, all controlled by the duo, as they received investor funds from the alleged scheme.
The couple has been charged with raising around $17.6m (£13m, €15m) from as many as 200 investors between 2007 and 2021 to invest in their firm’s purported Flagship and Platinum funds.
The Bullards told investors, the majority of whom were friends and family including several elderly retirees, that their money would be used to trade foreign currencies.
They sent clients statements showing that their accounts were increasing in value as well, the SEC said.
But the watchdog alleges that Bullard Enterprises stopped trading in foreign currencies in 2015, and the couple used investor money from that point onwards to pay purported returns to previous investors.
Additionally, the duo “misappropriated investors’ money to support other businesses they owned, including a horse racing stable, limousine service, and health and fitness studio”, the SEC added.
‘Breach of trust’
Nekia Hackworth Jones, director of the SEC’s Atlanta regional office, said: “Many of the investor-victims in this case were friends and family of Bullard and Romero-Bullard who trusted their promises about investment strategy and expected returns.
“As alleged in the complaint, Bullard and Romero-Bullard breached that trust for years. Instead of delivering on their promises, these individuals used false statements and fraudulent documents to convince investors to pour millions of dollars into bank accounts used almost exclusively for Ponzi-style payments and for their personal benefit.”
The SEC has charged the Bullards and the five entities with violating the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws.
In addition to temporary relief, the regulator is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgement interest, civil penalties and an asset freeze.