SEC Obtains Emergency Asset Freeze, Charges Businessman With Operating a Ponzi-Like Scheme
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington D.C., Jan. 14, 2020 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it filed an emergency enforcement action and obtained a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against Illinois resident Kenneth D. Courtright, III and his company, Todays Growth Consultant Inc., in connection with an alleged Ponzi-like scheme that raised at least $75 million from more than 500 investors throughout the United States and abroad.
According to the SEC's complaint, from at least 2017 through at least October 2019, TGC, which also operated under the name "The Income Store," and Courtright, the company's founder and current chairman, promised investors an endless minimum guaranteed rate of return on revenues generated by websites. In exchange for an investor's "upfront fee," TGC claimed that it would either buy or build a website for the investor, and develop, market, and maintain the website. As alleged, TGC falsely promised that it would use investors' funds exclusively for expenses related to the investor's website. In reality, as alleged, the sales were conducted through unregistered securities offerings, and TGC used new investors’ funds to pay investor returns, in Ponzi-like fashion, and to pay Courtright's personal expenses, including his mortgage and private school tuitions for his family.
"TGC and Courtright’s alleged fraud promised a guaranteed return when the company's business model and financial condition could not possibly support it," said Antonia Chion, Associate Director in the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "To avoid further harm to investors and preserve the misused assets that have not already been dissipated, we have sought and obtained emergency relief."
The SEC's complaint, filed in federal court in Chicago on Dec. 27, 2019, and unsealed on Jan. 14, 2020, charges Courtright and TGC with violations of the antifraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws, and seeks certain emergency relief as well as permanent injunctions, return of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties. On Dec. 30, 2019, the Court issued a temporary restraining order, ordered an asset freeze and other emergency relief, and appointed a receiver for TGC.
The SEC's investigation was conducted by Michael Brennan, Patrick L. Feeney, Jeffrey Anderson, Donato Furlano, and Michi Harthcock, with assistance from Suzanne J. Romajas. The investigation was supervised by Kevin Guerrero, Peter Rosario, and Antonia Chion. The litigation will be led by Ms. Romajas and supervised by Stephan Schlegelmilch; Robert M. Moye will assist with the litigation. The SEC's investigation is continuing.