U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20183 / July 6, 2007
SEC v. Global Online Direct, Inc., Bryant E. Behrmann, and Larry "Buck" E. Hunter, Civil Action No 1:07-CV-0767 (N.D. Ga., filed April 5, 2007).
The Commission announced today that it has amended its previously filed complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to add fraud charges against Global Online Direct, Inc. (Global), a Nevada corporation headquartered in Union, Oregon, and its principals, Bryant E. Behrmann (Behrmann), of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Larry "Buck" E. Hunter (Hunter), of La Grande, Oregon.
The Commission's original complaint, filed on April 5, 2007, charged Global, Behrmann, and Hunter with conducting an unregistered offering of securities through the offer and sale of interests in Global's "Secured Profit Inventory Program" (SPIP), in violation of Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933. At the time the original complaint was filed, Global, Behrmann, and Hunter consented to, and the Court ordered, the appointment of Michael A. Grassmueck ("Grassmueck") as an independent corporate monitor for Global.
On June 4, 2007, the Court issued, also with Defendants' consent, an Order expanding Grassmueck's authority to that of a Receiver for Global, and freezing the assets of Global, Behrmann, and Hunter. The Order requires the Receiver to perform an accounting of the offering and sale of securities by Global, which it termed loans, including the names of all investors and/or lenders, the principal amount invested with and/or loaned to Global by all investors, and the amounts paid by Global to any investors.
The Amended Complaint, which was filed on July 3, 2007, charges that, since at least October 2005, Global, Behrmann and Hunter have orchestrated a massive Ponzi scheme and conducted an unregistered offering of securities through Global's SPIP. Global, Behrmann and Hunter solicited investors to "loan" Global funds for a term of one year in exchange for promised daily interest payments. Depending on the amount invested, Global promised effective annual returns of more than 1,800%. Global purported to generate revenue sufficient to pay investors their promised returns by pooling investor proceeds to purchase distressed inventory, which Global then claimed to resell through various online auction websites, including Ebay and Yahoo! Auctions, as well as through flea markets, street sales and retail storefronts. From October 2005 through March 2007, Global raised approximately $45 million from more than 9,000 investors.
The Amended Complaint further alleges that Global, Behrmann and Hunter failed to disclose to investors that Global's purported business model was wholly incapable of generating the returns promised to investors, and that the vast majority of the returns paid to existing investors were in fact the proceeds invested by later investors - the key hallmark of a Ponzi scheme. Global, Behrmann, and Hunter also failed to disclose other material information to investors, including that: (a) as of March 2007, Global was more than $30 million in arrears in honoring investor withdrawal requests and owed investors approximately $265 million - an amount more than $250 million in excess of all assets of Global; (b) even though they had promised investors that their investments were "secured and backed by actual product inventories," they had taken no steps to secure or tie any individual investment to any actual product inventory, and the total value of the inventory was only a tiny fraction of the investments purportedly secured; (c) Global maintained no effective bookkeeping or accounting systems, and thus were completely incapable of tracking or identifying the amounts invested by investors, the returns paid to investors, the cost of inventory purchased, and the proceeds generated through inventory sales; and (d) state cease-and-desist and injunctive orders for prior violations of securities laws had been entered against Global by the states of Pennsylvania and South Dakota, against Behrmann by the states of North Dakota, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, and against Hunter by the states of Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington. Additionally, while representing to investors that Behrmann was an attorney and a former judge, Defendants failed to disclose that his law license had been suspended since 1999 for professional misconduct and that the Idaho Supreme Court had found Behrmann to have engaged in "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in course of his practice of law."
The Amended Complaint further alleges that Global, Behrmann and Hunter violated the securities registration provisions of Sections 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the Securities Act) and the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The Amended Complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, an accounting, an asset freeze, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest and civil penalties against Global, Behrmann and Hunter.
The litigation remains pending as to all parties.