Securities and Exchange Commission
Litigation Release No. 18035 / March 14, 2003
SEC Sues South Florida Tax Preparer for Securities Fraud
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Louis W. Ratfield, Civil Action No. 03-80197-MIDDLEBROOKS (S. D. Fla., West Palm Beach Division)(complaint filed March 14, 2003).
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced today that it filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Louis W. Ratfield, a South Florida tax preparer and accountant. In its complaint, the SEC alleges that, from at least 1997 through 2001, Ratfield raised over $4 million from about 120 investors by selling interests in two investment clubs, purported "Common Law Trusts" called Stonehenge Enterprises Pure Trust and The Baron Financial Services.
According to the SEC's complaint, Ratfield promised returns of up to 26% or 40%. Ratfield also told investors that their investment principal was fully insured from loss and that they could redeem their investments annually. In actuality, Ratfield used the majority of the investors' funds to invest in risky start-up businesses. Most of Ratfield's investors never received their promised returns and lost their entire principal.
The SEC alleges in its complaint that Ratfield violated Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act), Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (Advisers Act). In its complaint, the SEC requests that the court permanently enjoin Ratfield from violating the securities registration and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, impose a civil money penalty against him, and order him to account for, and disgorge, all monies derived from his fraud.