The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission wants to take over a company that has billed itself as a viatical investment firm.
The SEC has asked the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Calif., for an order that would temporarily prohibit further sale of fractional owner interests, freeze the firm’s assets and appoint a receiver to take control of the firm’s operations.
The SEC also is trying to impose fines on the firm and obtain permanent injunctions.
The defendants in the case include Secure Investment Services Inc., Redding, Calif., and two sister companies, American Financial Services Inc. and Lyndon Group Inc. The defendants also include Donald F. Neuhaus and Kimberly Snowden.
Neuhaus controls Secure Investment and the other companies, and Snowden is Neuhaus’s daughter, officials allege in a complaint filed Thursday.
The defendants did not immediately return telephone calls seeking their comments.
The defendants have raised more than $25 million from hundreds of investors in more than 20 states, SEC officials allege.
Instead of setting investor funds aside to pay future premiums on the life insurance policy being sold, “defendants commingle and spend the funds immediately,” SEC officials allege in the complaint. “Consequently, defendants can meet future premium obligations exceeding $3 million only by fraudulently raising funds from new investors.”
Neuhaus and Snowden have transferred about $740,000 to themselves, officials allege.
In addition to commingling investors’ funds and their own funds, Neuhaus and Snowden used fake medical experts to come up with artificially low life expectancy estimates for the insureds involved in the viatical transactions, officials allege.