U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21182/ August 21, 2009
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Darrel West and Own My Travel, LLC, Defendants, and Professionally Assisted Marketing, Inc., Relief Defendant, Case No. 6:09-CV-1419 (M.D. Fla.)(August 14, 2009)
SEC Charges Florida Operator of Multi-Million Dollar Fraudulent Pyramid Scheme
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced that on August 14, 2009 it filed a civil injunctive action against a Florida resident and a company he controlled alleging that they conducted a multi-million dollar fraudulent pyramid scheme and lured investors with false promises of passive monthly income.
The SEC alleges that Darrel West and Own My Travel, LLC defrauded investors by offering and selling unregistered securities in the form of "Passport" memberships in a travel club that purportedly offered discount travel. The complaint alleges that the defendants raised over $6 million from investors nationwide.
According to the complaint, the defendants misrepresented Own My Travel as a legitimate multi-level marketing company when it was actually a fraudulent pyramid scheme premised on the sale of memberships and thus destined to collapse, leaving investors with substantial losses. The complaint also alleges that West and Own My Travel misled investors about Own My Travel's business structure and how it generated revenue, the future commissions investors would purportedly receive on a monthly basis, the risks associated with the Own My Travel investment, and West's failures running a similar predecessor company.
The SEC's complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleges that West and Own My Travel 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 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.
The SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against the defendants, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and civil money penalties. The complaint also seeks disgorgement plus pre-judgment interest from the relief defendant, Professionally Assisted Marketing, Inc., a telemarketing company that the complaint alleges recruited new investors on behalf of existing Own My Travel investors.