U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 18491 / December 5, 2003
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION v. GLOBAL EXPRESS CAPITAL REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT FUND I, LLC; GLOBAL EXPRESS CAPITAL MORTGAGE CORP.; GLOBAL EXPRESS SECURITIES, INC.; CONNIE S. FARRIS; and DAWN M. REESE, Civil Action No. CV-S-03-1514-KJD (LRL) (D. Nev.)
COURT ENTERS ORDER HALTING $48 MILLION SECURITIES FRAUD
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") announced that on December 4, 2003, the Honorable Kent J. Dawson, United States District Judge for the District of Nevada, issued a temporary restraining order halting an ongoing $48 million Ponzi-like investment scheme by Connie S. Farris, age 59, of Henderson, Nevada; Dawn M. Reese, age 45, of Las Vegas, Nevada; and three entities owned or controlled by Farris: Global Express Capital Real Estate Investment Fund I, LLC (the "Fund"), Global Express Capital Mortgage Corp. ("GECM"), and Global Express Securities, Inc. ("GE Securities"), a Las Vegas-based broker-dealer. The Court: (1) granted the Commission's application for a temporary restraining order; (2) appointed a temporary receiver; (3) placed a freeze on certain defendants' assets; (4) prohibited the destruction of documents by the defendants; (5) ordered accountings from the defendants; and (6) granted expedited discovery.
The Fund is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. GECM, which is headquartered in Billings, Montana, is the sole manager of the Fund and is responsible for all of the Fund's activities. GE Securities, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, is registered with the Commission as a broker-dealer. It offers and sells investments in the Fund; it does not offer or sell any other securities. Farris, through a holding company, is the sole shareholder of GECM and GE Securities. She also is the sole officer and director of GECM. Reese is the president of GE Securities.
The Commission's complaint, filed today, alleges that, since late 2001, the defendants have offered and sold interests in the Fund, which purports to pool investor funds to purchase interests in mortgage loans and trust deeds and to pay regular monthly returns to investors from the interest earned from the Fund's investments. To date, the Fund has raised at least $48 million from about 600 investors nationwide. The defendants have promised, and have actually paid to investors, a return on their investments equal to at least 12% annually. The complaint alleges that, contrary to the defendants' representations, the Fund is not generating sufficient interest income to pay the monthly distributions it is making to investors and, in fact, is operating as a Ponzi-like investment scheme. The defendants are funding the monthly investor distributions with cash from new investors as well as with capital contributions from Farris and GECM and proceeds from the sale of non-cash assets of the Fund. In addition, the complaint alleges that the Fund, aided and abetted by Farris, filed with the Commission materially false and misleading quarterly reports that misrepresent the financial condition of the Fund.
The Commission obtained an order temporarily restraining the defendants from committing securities fraud in violation of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The order also temporarily restrains GE Securities from committing securities fraud in violation of Section 15(c) of the Exchange Act. The order further temporarily restrains the Fund from violating, and Farris from aiding and abetting violations of, the reporting requirements of Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20 and 15d-13 thereunder, and temporarily restrains Farris from violating the certification requirements of Rule 15d-14 under the Exchange Act. The Court also ordered a freeze on the assets of the Fund, GECM and GE Securities and appointed a temporary receiver over each of the entities.
The Court ordered the temporary restraining order and asset freeze to remain in effect until December 17, 2003 at 10 a.m., at which time the Court will hold a hearing on the Commission's motion for a preliminary injunction and appointment of a permanent receiver. In addition to the interim relief granted today, the Commission seeks a final judgment against the defendants enjoining them from future violations of the foregoing antifraud, reporting and certification provisions, ordering them to disgorge all ill-gotten gains, and assessing civil penalties against them. The Commission also seeks an order prohibiting Farris from acting as an officer or director of any public company.
The Commission would like to acknowledge the substantial assistance of the Nevada Secretary of State, Securities Division, in the investigation of this matter.