When it comes to investing, blind faith can be very expensive.
The State Securities Board Enforcement Report for 2018, released Feb. 7, highlights cases in which individuals took it on faith that they were putting their money into legitimate investments managed by legitimate executives.
Instead, tens of millions of dollars were lost in an astonishing array of securities fraud cases.
A former pastor sold investments in a worthless internet advertising company.
A Mexican immigrant touted his rise in the business world to entice investors – many of whom are Hispanic, and some, like him, immigrants – into a scheme involving the sale of business contracts to fund small business loans.
A former registered securities agent convinced his clients to start writing checks to him instead of the companies whose products they were invested in.
All told in 2018, the State Securities Board investigated and assisted in the prosecution of 12 individuals, resulting in prison sentences totaling 244 years, community supervision of 38 years, and orders of restitution of $13.2 million.
The State Securities Board also assisted in the indictment of 16 individuals.
In administrative cases, Securities Commissioner Travis J. Iles imposed fines totaling $68,000 in orders citing five firms and individuals.
Two registered individuals were suspended for a total of 150 days.
The State Securities Board also continued its leadership among U.S. states in cracking down on fraudulent cryptocurrency-related offerings.
In 2018, Commissioner Iles entered 16 administrative orders involving cryptocurrency-based investment programs. The orders cited a total of 60 individuals and entities.
While suspect cryptocurrency offerings represent a significant new threat to Texas investors, the State Securities Board continues to bring administrative and criminal actions against promoters of more common fraudulent schemes such as oil and gas and real estate development programs.