U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21525 / May 12, 2010
SEC v. David F. Merrick, Traders International Return Network, MS, Inc., GTT Services, Inc., MDD Consulting, Inc., and Go ! Tourism, Inc., Civil Case No. 6:09-CV-1744-ORL-31KRS, USDC, M.D., Fla.
SEC OBTAINS PERMANENT INJUNCTIONS AGAINST DAVID F. MERRICK, TRADERS INTERNATIONAL RETURN NETWORK AND OTHERS IN LAWSUIT ALLEGING MULTIMILLION DOLLAR PONZI SCHEME
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") announced that on May 11, 2010, the Honorable Judge Gregory Presnell of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division entered an order of permanent injunction against David F. Merrick, a resident of Apopka, Florida, Traders International Return Network ("TIRN"), MS, Inc., GTT Services, Inc., MDD Consulting, Inc. and Go ! Tourism, Inc. (collectively, "defendants"), arising from their fraudulent conduct in operating an online Ponzi scheme.
On October 14, 2009, the Commission filed its complaint against defendants alleging as follows: Since at least July 2008, Merrick and the entity defendants under his control engaged in a fraudulent scheme to misappropriate investors' funds for his personal use and to repay other investors in a Ponzi scheme, raising at least $22 million from at least 2500 investors throughout the United States. Merrick, acting as an investment adviser, and TIRN intentionally misled investors in TIRN by misrepresenting that their money would be used to buy Forex, international bonds, international stocks and other investments. Instead of purchasing these investments, Merrick and TIRN transferred investor funds among MS, GTT Services, MDD Consulting and Go ! Tourism and misappropriated at least $3.7 million of the funds for Merrick's personal expenditures. Further, Merrick directed that new investor funds be used to repay existing investors.
The permanent injunction order, consented to by defendants without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's complaint, enjoins Merrick, TIRN, MS, GTT Services, MDD Consulting and Go ! Tourism from violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 [Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder]; Merrick and TIRN from violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 [Section 17(a)]; Merrick from violating the antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 [Sections 206(1), 206(2), 206(4) and Rule 206(4)-8]; Merrick and TIRN from violating the securities registrations provisions [Section 5(a) of the Securities Act], foreign investment company provisions [Section 7(d) of the Investment Company Act of 1940] and broker-dealer registration provisions [Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act].
In an order dated October 14, 2009, Judge Presnell entered a preliminary injunctive order prohibiting the offer or sale of interests in TIRN, freezing the assets of the defendants and ordering them to repatriate assets into the United States.
In a related criminal matter in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Merrick pleaded guilty to counts of money laundering and conspiracy and agreed to forfeit cash, houses and vehicles valued at more than $8 million and to make complete restitution. Merrick is awaiting sentencing and is eligible to serve a prison sentence of up to fifteen years.
The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Chicago office of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.