SEC Sues Ex-President of California Mortgage Firm for Running $30 Million Ponzi Scheme
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., Oct. 10, 2006 - On Friday, Oct. 6, 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges against the operator of a massive Ponzi scheme who raised more than $30 million from 200 investors to pay off personal gambling debts and finance his lavish lifestyle. The Commission's complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Salvatore Favata, the former President of National Consumer Mortgage, LLC (NCM), a residential mortgage business in Orange County, Calif.
The Commission alleges that from 2001 through 2006, Favata falsely promised investors rates of return of 30-60% on their investments, but instead used new investor funds to pay off earlier investors in typical Ponzi-like fashion. The complaint also charges that Favata used the money to pay off more than $10 million of his own gambling debts, as well as other personal debts and living expenses, and to fund lavish house parties and community music festivals.
Peter H. Bresnan, Deputy Director of Enforcement, stated, "This case exemplifies how fraudsters can take advantage of existing market conditions - here, California's booming real estate market - to entice investors with the false promise of double digit returns. The Commission is actively committed to protecting investors who have been victimized in such schemes."
The Commission's complaint alleges that Favata solicited investors in face-to-face settings, including church gatherings and investment seminars, and persuaded mortgage refinance clients to take cash out of their refinancings and use that cash to invest in NCM investment notes. Favata falsely told potential investors that NCM would loan investor funds to homeowners who could not qualify for traditional mortgages, and that a low default rate would be maintained by only lending on properties with a 65 % or lower loan-to-value ratio. Favata went so far as to represent that NCM maintained deeds of trust for the real estate securing the investments.
Without admitting or denying the allegations of the Commission's complaint, Favata consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining him from violating the antifraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws, Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Sections 10(b) and 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. Favata also consented to being permanently barred from associating with any broker or dealer.
On the same day the Commission filed its complaint, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of California filed an information and plea agreement in which Favata agrees to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud, to pay restitution in excess of $20 million, and to forfeit his residence in connection with the same scheme. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Favata faces a possible 60-month prison sentence.
The Commission acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the United States Trustee for the Central District of California in this matter.
For more information, contact
Peter H. Bresnan
SEC Division of Enforcement
John Reed Stark
Chief, SEC Office of Internet Enforcement
Additional materials: Litigation Release 19861