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$1.2 Billion Ponzi at Woodbridge Group of Companies More Widespread Than Thought

An InvestmentNews report suggests that the $1.2 billion Ponzi and fraud scheme the SEC in January charged Robert H Shapiro (Sherman Oaks, California, and Aspen, Colorado)'s Woodbridge Group of Companies with operating may be more widespread in the securities industry than first thought. According to one estimate, more than 8,400 seniors across the company have been victimized, many of whom bought into Woodbridge and associated brokers' claims that the investment was "low risk" and "conservative."

When SEC investigators first announced its investigation of luxury real estate developer Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC, in December 2017, we cited the case of former Royal Alliance Associates representative Frank John Capuano, whom FINRA sanctioned for selling more than $1.1 million in Woodbridge notes through undisclosed and unapproved private securities transactions, reaping $34,000 in unauthorized commissions.

Since then, the Woodbridge Group of Companies name—through subsidiaries such as Woodbridge Realty (Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley, CO) and Woodbridge Luxury Homes (Sherman Oaks, Hidden Hills, Beverly Hills, and Bel Air, CA)—has appeared in more disciplinary documents out of the SEC and FINRA enforcement offices.

The SEC named RS Protection Trust, WMF Management, Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund, Woodbridge Commercial Bridge Loan Fund, Woodbridge Structured Funding, and 275 other Woodbridge affiliates as defendants.

On June 1, 2018, FINRA barred former SA Stone Wealth Management broker Christopher T Wendel (CRD #1930870) for soliciting investors to purchase promissory notes in Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Funds, selling $343,500 in undisclosed and unapproved promissory notes and receiving $10,000 in unauthorized commissions.

On May 21, 2018, FINRA fined and suspended ex-Securities Service Network representative Peter D Holler (CRD #838897) for engaging in a series of private securities transactions involving Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Funds without providing notice or seeking approval from his firm. The findings state that Holler sold $1.39 million in Woodbridge promissory notes and received nearly $50,000 in ill-gotten commissions.

On May 7, the Wall Street Journal named Beverly Hills financial adviser Ray Kay aka Ramond Lawrence Kotrozo (CRD #274352)—barred by FINRA for fraud, and fined for attempting to circumvent the permanent ban—as one such Los Angeles-area financial personality who touted Woodbridge, claiming that Kay advertised Woodbridge on the radio is a "low-risk, high-income investment."

The WSJ article stated that even though Kay aka Kotrozo was banned from the industry, he nonetheless allegedly sold a Woodbridge investment, as did Donald Anthony MacKenzie of Old Security Financial Group Inc. in Spring, Texas, whom FINRA previously sanctioned for selling investments without a license.

In April, a Colorado judge ordered brokers Gerald Kagarise of Colorado Springs and James Campbell of Woodland Park to stop selling the Woodbridge products, while broker Laurent Carrier of Colorado Springs voluntarily dropped his securities license. The other Colorado-based brokers named by The Denver Post were Timothy C McGuire, Ronald E Caskey, Erik K Little, and David Allen Bjorklund, all of whom allegedly solicited and sold the unregistered securities despite being unlicensed to do so.

Caskey is the host of the "Ron Caskey Radio Show" and "Bible Views Radio Show" in Colorado.

If you have invested with a broker or financial adviser in the Woodbridge Group of Companies, whether in the Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund or another private securities transaction conducted away from the firm without authorization or disclosure, and such investment in this Ponzi scheme fraudulently misrepresented as "low risk" and "conservative" has proven harmful to your interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.

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