Washington, D.C., March 9, 2006 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit today against registered investment adviser BMA Ventures, Inc. and its president, William Robert Kepler, 35, of Dallas, Texas, alleging that they illegally obtained approximately $1.9 million in a fraudulent “scalping” scheme from January 2004 through March 2005.
Scalping is the illegal practice of recommending that others purchase a security and secretly selling the same security contrary to the recommendation.
Rose L. Romero, District Administrator of the SEC’s Fort Worth office, said, “Persons who recommend that others purchase a stock must disclose their intent to sell in connection with the recommendation. Investors have a right to know whether they are getting impartial advice, or if a promoter stands to gain by enticing them to buy stock the promoter is selling. This case demonstrates our aggressive stance against scalpers and against investment advisers who fail to measure up to the high standards the Commission requires.”
Katherine S. Addleman, Associate District Administrator for Enforcement, said, “Fax and email tout sheets are not only a regular source of frustration for the recipients, but are often fraudulent. We take seriously our mission to protect investors from such unlawful promotions.”
According to the Commission’s complaint, Kepler acted through BMA Ventures to inundate fax machines across the country with newsletters touting the stock of 26 small companies whose stock traded on the OTC Bulletin Board or the PinkSheets. Each newsletter bore a name such as “OTC Premier,” “Inside Wall St.,” or “OTC Marquee,” and described a featured company and its earnings prospects in glowing terms while urging readers to buy the company’s stock. In every case, however, BMA Ventures sold its stock in the featured company contemporaneously with the fax campaign or shortly afterward. Although the newsletters disclosed that BMA Ventures owned stock in the featured companies, they did not disclose BMA Ventures’ intent to sell its stock holdings or its past stock sales in connection with its recommendations.
The complaint further alleged that BMA Ventures violated the investment adviser registration provisions of the federal securities laws by registering with the SEC when it did not meet the minimum registration requirements. These requirements prohibit registration unless the adviser has at least $25 million in assets under management or is an adviser to a registered investment company. The Commission also alleged that Kepler aided and abetted BMA Ventures’ violations of these provisions.
The SEC’s action, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, seeks permanent injunctions for violations of the anti-fraud and investment adviser registration provisions of the federal securities laws, penny stock bars, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and civil money penalties against BMA Ventures and Kepler.
The SEC cautions investors to think twice before acting on the advice of an unsolicited investment newsletter. In 2005, complaints concerning junk faxes and email spams touting investments ranked No. 2 on the SEC’s “Top 10 Complaints” list, rising 34% compared with 2004. For tips on avoiding costly mistakes, the SEC encourages investors to read Junk Faxes: How to Handle Those “Blasted” Faxes at www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/junkfax.htm and Tips for Checking Out Newsletters at http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/cyberfraud/newsletter.htm.