The Woodbridge Group of Companies investment scam has impacted thousands of people across the United States over the past several years. Woodbridge, a commercial real estate development firm, bilked investors out of nearly $2 billion in an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Company owner Robert H. Shapiro was arrested on April 11th and charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for his role in the scam, and financial restitution to victims is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2019.
On April 11, 2019, the SEC charged two additional players in the scheme. Former directors of investments for Woodbridge, Ivan Acevedo and Dane Roseman, were arrested and charged by California criminal authorities. The pair were charged with orchestrating much of the investment fraud for Woodbridge; although the two are not registered with the SEC, their role in obtaining fraudulent investments from 8400 retail investors netted them approximately $3 million in ill-gotten profits.
Details of the Criminal Filings
Acevedo and Roseman are both based in California. The criminal complaint against them was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In the complaint, Acevedo is accused of spearheading fundraising efforts for Woodbridge as its acting director of investments. During his tenure, which spanned three years from 2012 to 2015, he was responsible for approving fraudulent marketing materials, training Woodbridge sales associates in illegal practices, and positioning the company and its work as a legitimate investment operation. Roseman succeeded Acevedo in 2015 and continued the company’s fraudulent practices. According to the complaint, the pair were instrumental in perpetuating the Ponzi scheme, attracting investors with false marketing materials and practices and generating millions of dollars in illegally-obtained profits.
The charges filed by the SEC in the complaint against Acevedo and Roseman include:
- Violation of the securities registration regulations with the SEC.
- Violating broker-dealer registration requirements.
- Violating anti-fraud regulations under the federal securities laws.
The case, if prosecuted successfully, will seek to recover some or all of the illegally-obtained funds, including interest and numerous financial penalties.
The criminal filing against the pair of Woodbridge executives was a joint investigative effort that brought together several federal and state agencies, including the SEC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.