The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a former Transamerica Financial Advisors rep with bilking at least $178,000 from clients as part of what the regulator claimed was a “Ponzi-like scheme.”

In a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the SEC said Scott Allen Fries, a former Ohio-based broker and RIA, recommended that victims of his scam, including several of his brokerage customers and their relatives, provided him funds to invest outside of his relationship with his firm between January 2016 and March 2019.

The firm’s name was not identified in the complaint, but Fries was with Transamerica Financial Advisors during that period, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

Fries was discharged from Transamerica July 18, 2019, for allegedly accepting funds to invest in securities products away from the firm, according to BrokerCheck. Its report also shows he was barred from the industry by FINRA for failing to respond to its request for information and is no longer registered as a broker or RIA.

Transamerica did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. It was not immediately clear from court documents who is representing Fries.

At least seven people allegedly gave Fries a total of at least $178,000 to invest, according to the SEC’s complaint. As alleged in the complaint, Fries “betrayed the trust” of investors and, instead of spending their funds on securities as promised, “misappropriated the investors’ funds and spent their money on himself.”

All the checks Fries received from investors were “deposited into his own bank accounts [and], within days of receiving money, Fries began using the investors’ funds to pay his own personal expenses — such as mortgage payments, payday loans and credit card bills,” the complaint claimed.

To cover up his fraud, Fries allegedly created fake account statements, lied to his employer and used a Ponzi-like scheme to repay one couple who demanded the return of their investment, using funds from other investors, the SEC claimed.

Fries allegedly violated the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, according to the SEC. The complaint seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement with prejudgment interest and a civil penalty.