In a complaint filed in concurrence with the FBI's arrests of Izak Zirk De Maison and Stephen Joel Wilshinsky in Los Angeles last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged eight industry associates for their part in the alleged penny stock pump-and-dump scheme purportedly organized by De Maison aka Izak Zirk Engelbrecht.
According to the SEC's findings, Izak Zirk de Maison and his wife Angelique de Maison of Redlands, California orchestrated the scheme by enlisting others to buy, sell or promote stock in Gepco Ltd., a company under their control that was previously known as WikiFamilies and inaccurately claimed to own and operate a social media website.
The investigation states that Zirk de Maison installed several recruited associates as officers and directors of Gepco while he covertly operated the company, allowing both de Maisons to collect large blocks of Gepco common stock shares and enabling the couple to manipulate the market to create a false appearance of demand, causing the Gepco stock price to rise to great levels before dumping the stock for hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit products while duped investors suffered losses due to the sudden and dramatic price drop.
Noting that penny stock and microcap fraud remains a key priority of enforcement, the SEC charged six others in the pump-and-dump scheme, alleging their roles in the misconduct:
- Trish Malone of Santee, California served as Gepco's president, CFO, and secretary and allegedly used Gepco to issue stock to de Maison and others, who in turn conducted unregistered and illegal distributions of the securities.
- Peter Voutsas of Santa Monica, California served as Gepco's CEO and chief investment officer, allegedly making a materially misleading statement about Gepco to the public while the de Maisons manipulated Gepco's stock price in the public market. Voutsas controlled Peter Marco, LLC, which Gepco agreed to acquire in April 2014. That firm served as owner and operator of Peter Marco Extraordinary Jewels of Beverly Hills, CA, whose products included GemVest and other high-end rare investment grade diamonds and gemstones.
- Ronald Loshin of San Anselmo, California was Gepco's chief creative officer and allegedly failed to make several required regulatory filings to report insider transactions in Gepco stock, enabling de Maison to hide trading activity by using a brokerage account held in Loshin's name.
- Jason Cope of Gates Mills, Ohio allegedly ordered another associate to dump over 2.5 million shares of Gepco stock into the public market, resulting in the aforementioned illicit profits. The complaint states that for his role in the scheme, Cope received a portion of these illicit profits as kick backs.
- Louis Mastromatteo of Bay Village, Ohio allegedly and on Cope's behalf dumped the 2.5 million shares of Gepco stock into the market.
- Kiernan Kuhn of Port Washington, New York allegedly promoted Gepco through his own firm, Small Cap Resource Corp., and participated in the artificial inflation of Gepco's stock value in the furtherance of the pump-and-dump scheme. He conducted one of the unregistered and illegal distributions of Gepco-related securities alluded to within Loshin's charges.
The SEC complaint cites multiple e-mails, text messages and other communications as evidence of the Gepco eight's misconduct and, accordingly, suspended trading in Gepco securities in order to prevent further manipulation or dumping of the stock.
If a broker or adviser such as Stepehn Joel Wilshinsky recommended you invest in Gepco Ltd. or other company owned, operated, and/or controlled by Izak Zirk de Maison, Angelique de Maison, Trish Malone, Peter Voutsas, Ronald Loshin, Jason Cope, Louis Mastromatteo, and/or Kiernan Kuhn, and you suffered losses or experienced other adverse effects to your investments or interests as the result such recommendation, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for investigation and consultation.
Press Release: SEC Charges Eight for Roles in Widespread Pump-and-Dump Scheme Involving California-Based Microcap Company (SEC)