Securities Law Updates | New Releases/No Action Letters

April 13, 2012

Ponzi Scheme Targeting Persian-Jewish Community in Los Angeles Shut Down

SEC v. Shervin Neman, et al.
SEC No. 2012-64, Case 2:12-cv-03142-JHN-PLA, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, April 13, 2012 , 4/13/2012

Ponzi Scheme Targeting Persian-Jewish Community in Los Angeles Shut Down

The Securities and Exchange Commission today 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 $7.5 million from investors by claiming to be a hedge fund manager. Neman told investors that his purported hedge fund – Neman Financial L.P. – 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,” said 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 Honorable Jacqueline H. Nguyen for the U.S. 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 $1.6 million of investor funds to buy jewelry 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 April 23 at 2 p.m. on the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

View a PDF of the release

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Companies Mentioned

Securities Law

The following companies are mentioned in Securities Law Updates:

Securities and Exchange Commission

Harris Associates, L.P.

Banc of America Securities LLC

Citicorp USA, Inc.

Jan Charles Finance S.A.

Park East, Inc.

CIBC World Markets Corp.

Citigroup Inc.

Barclays Capital Inc.

Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.

The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi

Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc.

Toronto Dominion Texas, LLC f.k.a. Toronto Dominion Texas, Inc.

Alex Brown, Inc.

Tellabs, Inc.

Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc.

Mizuho International PLC

SG Cowen Securities Corp.

Suntrust Capital Markets, Inc.

Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd.

ABN AMRO Inc.

Lydia Capital, LLC

Tribune Company

Fleet Securities, Inc. n.k.a. Bank of America, N.A.

City of Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement

Staples, Inc.

The Bank of New York Company, Inc.

CIBC, Inc.

Citibank, N.A.

Metal Management, Inc.

European Metal Recycling, Ltd.

Salomon Smith Barney Inc. n.k.a. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.

Calyon Securities (USA), Inc. f.k.a. Credit Lyonnais Securities (USA) Inc.

Salomon Smith Barney, Inc.

Calyon New York Branch (successor by operation of law to Credit Lyonnais New York Branch)

Dynex Capital Inc.

Citigroup, Inc.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Merit Securities Corp.

JPMorgan Securities Inc.

Teamsters Local 445 Freight Division Pension Fund

Aetna, Inc.

Scotia Capital (USA), Inc.,

Cowen & Co., LLC f.k.a. SG Cowen Securities Corp.

Societe Generale

SunTrust Bank

TD Securities (USA), Inc.

BMO Nesbitt Burns Corp. n.k.a. Harris Nesbitt Burns Corp.

Consolidated Leasing Hugoton Joint Venture #2

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Professional Corporation

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