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SEC shuts down Ponzi scheme targeting LA Persian-Jewish community

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order to halt an ongoing Ponzi scheme that targeted members of the Persian-Jewish community in Los Angeles.

The SEC alleges that for the past two years, Shervin Neman raised more than USD7.5 million from investors by claiming to be a hedge fund manager. Neman told investors that his purported hedge fund – Neman Financial LP – invested in foreclosed residential properties that would be quickly flipped for profit as well as in Facebook shares obtained in private transactions and other highly anticipated initial public offerings including Groupon, LinkedIn, and Angie’s List. Although Neman promised investors exorbitant returns resulting from his investing acumen and access to pre-IPO shares of well-known companies, what they actually received was simply other investors’ money in hallmark Ponzi scheme fashion.

“Neman deceived members of his own community to raise money in this fraudulent Ponzi scheme,” says Michele Wein Layne, Associate Regional Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Office. “By exploiting investors’ trust in him, Neman was continually able to raise more money to pay back existing investors and finance an extravagant lifestyle.”

The Honourable Jacqueline H Nguyen for the US District Court for the Central District of California granted the SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against Neman and the entities he controlled.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Neman raised funds from at least 11 investors in the fraudulent securities offering. Most of the investors are members of the Los Angeles Persian-Jewish community along with Neman, who lives in the Century City area of Los Angeles. More than 99 percent of the money Neman raised was used either to pay existing investors or fund his lavish lifestyle. Neman spent nearly USD1.6 million of investor funds to buy jewellery and high-end cars as well as to finance his wedding and honeymoon, other vacations, and VIP tickets to sporting events.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Cindy Eson of the Los Angeles Regional Office. Molly White will lead the litigation. Joshua Bauder, Harden Sooper, and Yanna Stoyanoff conducted the SEC examination that prompted the investigation.

Judge Nguyen has scheduled a court hearing for 23 April at 2 pm on the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

 

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