U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21925/April 8, 2011
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Luis Garg, Jason Zakocs, RealFund Investment Trust, First Atlanta LP, Weatherby LP, and Citiprop Corporation, Case CV11-2976 DDP (VBKx) (C.D. Cal.)
SEC Files Civil Injunctive Action Against Alleged Perpetrators of Fraudulent Promissory Note Offerings
On April 8, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil injunctive action in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Luis Garg, Jason Zakocs, and four companies owned and/or controlled by Garg, RealFund Investment Trust ("RealFund"), First Atlanta, LP ("First Atlanta"), Weatherby LP ("Weatherby"), and Citiprop Corporation ("Citiprop"), for allegedly participating in fraudulent offerings of promissory notes. RealFund and Citiprop are based in, and Garg and Zakocs reside in, Los Angeles, California. First Atlanta and Weatherby are based in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Complaint alleges that, from at least April 2008 through January 2010, the defendants raised approximately $1 million from 20 to 30 investors who invested in high-yield promissory notes, issued by RealFund, First Atlanta, and Weatherby, the proceeds from which were to be used for real estate development projects. According to the Complaint, the defendants told investors that their investments were risk-free and guaranteed annual returns ranging from 8% to 24%. In addition to alleging that these representations were false, the Complaint alleges that the defendants falsely advised investors that their promissory notes would be fully secured by equity in the underlying real estate projects. The Complaint further alleges that, notwithstanding the defendants' assurances as to the safety of their investment program and unbeknownst to investors, one of the note issuers and real estate development companies for the investment program, First Atlanta, had been involved in bankruptcy proceedings for nearly the entire offering period. In addition, the Complaint alleges that, notwithstanding First Atlanta's default on some of the promissory notes beginning in September 2009, the defendants failed to disclose this information to new investors and continued to offer and sell their promissory notes as a safe and guaranteed investment through January 2010. According to the Complaint, the note offerings were not registered with the Commission, RealFund was not registered with the Commission as a broker or dealer, and neither Garg nor Zakocs were associated persons of a registered broker or dealer at the time they sold the promissory notes.
The Complaint claims that, based on this conduct, all of the defendants violated Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The Complaint also claims that RealFund, Garg, and Zakocs violated Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act.