Latest Action in International Securities Fraud Ring Uncovered by Securities and Insurance Commissioner’s Office
Helena, Mont. – A Bozeman man has been banned from the securities business in Montana and ordered to pay more than half a million dollars in restitution to victims of an international securities fraud scheme.
Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen today announced a settlement agreement with Bozeman resident Eric Schultz and his company Big Sky Equity, Inc. In the agreement, Schultz agreed to pay $530,000 into a restitution fund to repay victims identified in the agency’s action entitled In the Matter of Dan Two Feathers et al. The agreement also permanently bans Schultz from obtaining a license to conduct securities business in Montana.
“My office will do everything in our power to make sure that those who attempt to defraud Montanans of their hard-earned savings will be held accountable,” said Lindeen.
Lindeen’s office alleged Schultz wasn’t licensed to sell securities and defrauded investors through misrepresentation and omission of fact. Schultz and Big Sky Equity, Inc. are just two of the eleven individuals and businesses alleged to be involved in the investment scheme which involves at least thirteen investors who were duped out of nearly $4 million.
The alleged fraud has international implications. One defendant, Andre Curtis, is a Bermuda resident.† The alleged victims are from across the United States and the fraud scheme involves unsuspecting intermediaries from Europe and South Africa. The Securities Department worked closely with Bermudan authorities.
The action alleged Schultz sold over $2 million in bogus investments offered through Harvest Investment Holdings, a Bermudan company operated by Andre Curtis. The investors were promised an annual rate of return of over 900%, for which Schultz was to receive an intermediary fee of 15% of the profits. The investor did not receive any rate of return on the investment.
So far, one investor who invested with Harvest Investment Holdings has received a majority of his principal back. Lindeen’s office obtained a temporary injunction from Lewis & Clark District Court and was able to freeze over $200,000 of the Big Sky Equity, Inc. investment funds. The restitution amount Schultz has agreed to pay represents the remaining balance the Department was unable to locate or freeze.
The action also alleged Schultz owned and operated an unregistered investment company entitled Big Sky Equity, Inc. Schultz allegedly raised $740,000 from six investors, promising them annual rates of return of nearly 2000%. The investors entered into agreements with Schultz in which he was to receive 20% of their investment profits. None of the investors received the promised rate of return and, to date, have not received a return of their principal