SEC Charges Florida Resident Brent Seaman with Operating a $35 Million Ponzi Scheme that Targeted Church Members
Washington, DC (STL.News) The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Thursday charged Brent Seaman of Naples, Florida, and various entities he managed for fraudulently raising approximately $35 million (Ponzi Scheme) from at least 60 investors through an unregistered securities offering. Many of these investors were elderly, retired, and connected to a Naples, Florida church where Seaman was an active member.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that, from approximately June 2019 until September 2022, Seaman told investors he would use their money to invest in technology companies and to trade currencies and commodities. Seaman falsely promised annual returns ranging between 18 and 48 percent and described the investments as “safe” and the returns as “guaranteed.” The complaint further alleges that Seaman solicited investors by touting his proven success investing in currencies when, in reality, he was losing millions of dollars of investors’ money, and his currency trading was always unprofitable. Seaman also allegedly misappropriated millions of dollars for himself, in part to purchase luxury automobiles and to pay for trips on private planes. Finally, Seaman allegedly made Ponzi-like payments to investors because he did not generate profits in connection with his trading sufficient to pay investors their required monthly distributions.
“As alleged in our complaint, Seaman targeted church members with false claims of success,” said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “This action reflects a deep commitment to pursue those who prey on vulnerable investors.”
The SEC’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges Seaman, Accanito Holdings, LLC, Accanito Equity, LLC, Accanito Equity II, LLC, Accanito Equity III, LLC, and Accanito Equity IV, LLC with violating the registration provisions of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933. The complaint also charges Seaman, the Accanito LLCs, and two related entities, Accanito Capital Group, and Surge LLC, with violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Finally, the complaint charges Seaman with violating the broker-dealer registration provisions of Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act. The complaint names as relief defendants and seeks disgorgement with prejudgment interest from Seaman’s wife, Jana Seaman, and two affiliated entities, Valo Holdings Group, LLC and Surge Capital Ventures, LLC, that allegedly together received millions in investor proceeds.
All fraud defendants have consented to a bifurcated settlement without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations and are subject to court approval, under which they will be enjoined from violating the charged provisions of the federal securities laws, and Seaman will be barred from serving as an officer or director of any SEC-reporting company. Seaman also agreed to settle follow-on administrative proceedings pursuant to Section 15(b) of the Exchange Act based on the anticipated entry of a permanent injunction against him. Additionally, the defendants agree that the court will determine whether it is appropriate to order them to pay disgorgement with prejudgment interest and a civil penalty. Relief defendant Jana Seaman has agreed to pay $757,154 in disgorgement and interest. Relief defendant Valo Holdings Group has agreed to pay $668,240 in disgorgement and interest.
The SEC’s investigation into this ponzi scheme was part of the Miami Regional Office’s Fraud Against Minority Groups Initiative and was conducted by Andre Zamorano, Alise Johnson, and Mark Dee in the Miami Regional Office and supervised by Thierry Olivier Desmet, Fernando Torres, and Glenn S. Gordon. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Alise Johnson under the supervision of Teresa J. Verges.
The SEC encourages investors to check the backgrounds of people selling investments by using the SEC’s Investor.gov to identify quickly whether they are registered professionals and confirm their identity. For more information about affinity frauds, visit https://www.sec.gov/resources-investors/investor-alerts-bulletins/affinity-fraud.