The Securities and Exchange Commission charged two Texas companies and their principals in a $2.4 million Ponzi scheme and in a related $1.4 million offering fraud targeting retirees.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that, from 2010 to 2017, Clifton Stanley ran a Ponzi scheme through his retirement planning and real estate investment business, The Lifepay Group LLC.
Stanley is alleged to have lured at least 30 elderly victims to invest approximately $2.4 million of their retirement savings with baseless promises and claims of outsize investment returns, according to the SEC. He kept the scheme afloat for years by paying early investors with later investors’ funds and by persuading investors to roll over their investments.
“Fraudulent conduct targeting the most vulnerable among us is reprehensible,” Shamoil Shipchandler, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office, said in a statement. “As the U.S. population ages, financial exploitation of seniors is an increasing and serious problem.”
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The SEC further alleges that Stanley pilfered from the estate of an elderly woman’s family trust, diverting nearly $100,000 to fund the Lifepay Ponzi scheme. In addition, the SEC’s complaint alleges that, beginning in 2015, Stanley and Michael Watts orchestrated a second offering fraud through a company they controlled, SMDRE LLC.
Stanley and Watts allegedly used a collection of misrepresentations and empty promises to convince a group of predominantly elderly victims to invest roughly $1.4 million in SMDRE.