The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the Woodbridge Group of Companies and the Woodbridge Mortgage Funds (Woodbridge). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has alleged that the Woodbridge operated a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme ensnaring about 8,400 investors. Woodbridge solicited hundreds of disreputable insurance agents and investment brokers to sell its false notes that the firm claimed to be backed by mortgages. In plain sight to regulators, Woodbridge engaged in a nationwide investment fraud by offering the sale of unregistered securities.
According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Roger Owens (Owens) appears to be an agent for Woodbridge fraudulent note sales. Owens was formerly associated with Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) out of the firm’s Elkton, Maryland office location. Owens has four complaints related to his Woodbridge note sales.
In addition, in August 2019 FINRA found that Owens consented to sanctions and findings that he engaged in private securities transactions without providing notice to Cetera. FINRA determined that Owens solicited investors to purchase promissory notes relating to a purported real-estate investment fund [Woodbridge]. Owens was found to have sold at least $1,170,000 in promissory notes to investors while receiving $59,471 in commissions in connection with these transactions. FINRA also found that Owens falsely attested in compliance questionnaires that he had not engaged in any private securities transactions without receiving prior written approval from his firm.
Federal securities laws and the FINRA rules require firms to monitor and supervise its employees, like Ernst, in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including recommending fraudulent investments.
The signs that the Woodbridge Funds was a giant fraud debacle ware all apparent. Woodbridge and its agents have been sanctioned by multiple state regulators for offering unregistered securities. Going back to May 2015, the Massachusetts Securities Division imposed a bar on the Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Funds and ordered the companies to permanently cease and desist from selling unregistered or non-exempt securities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Thereafter, on July 17, 2015, the Texas State Securities Board issued an emergency cease and desist order against Woodbridge Fund 3, the firm’s owner Robert Shapiro (Shapiro), and other parties and ordered them to stop engaging in fraud in connection with the sale of securities in the state of Texas. On October 4, 2016 the state of Arizona filed a complaint against Woodbridge entities for selling unregistered securities through unregistered brokers. In December 2016, Woodbridge entities and individuals were sanctioned by the state of Arizona.
Owens entered the securities industry in 1993. From July 2007 until April 2019 Owens was associated with Cetera.
While the SEC has spent years investigating Woodbridge, the firm continued to raise millions of dollars from investors. Some of the Woodbridge entities or Woodbridge Funds include the following:
- WMF Management, LLC
- Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC
- Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 1, LLC
- Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 2, LLC
- Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 3, LLC
- Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund PA, LLC
- Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC (DBA Woodbridge Wealth)
Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation. Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of investment fraud and brokerage firms failure to supervise their representatives. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.