Wednesday, April 11, 2012

SEC Enforcement is a joke

There are multiple articles in the WSJ today about the SEC cracking down on perpetrators of the Great Recession and digging into Hedge Fund data to find fraud (call me cynical, but the very fact the funds in question filed documents with the SEC in the first place would lead me to believe that they would not intentionally file fraudulent documents that were obvious frauds in the first place - seems like a pretty bad starting place), which makes it ironic that I got an email from a guy named Alex Barta today.

Alex Barta called me a month ago offering me a once in a lifetime investment opportunity with 1200% annualized yields in the first month and all he needed was $5,000. It was an oil & gas play called the Warner project and I knew in the first 10 seconds it was a scam but feigned interest and collected as much data as I could and scheduled a follow-up call a week later with him and requested an email with more information. I hung up with him and immediately called the SEC - the guy on the phone thought it sounded like an urgent matter and forwarded me to a ladies voicemail and I left a message. I decided I'd also fill out their online whistleblower reporting form, and then also filled out a form with the state securities regulator, and sent an email to FINRA. I included all of his contact information, documents he sent, aliases, and information I found about him on the web (he's been swindling people for a long time!). I also offered to help get him on the record at my scheduled follow up meeting.

The only response was a letter from the state regulator via snail mail asking me to fill out a form. I got no call back from the SEC, no letter, no follow up at all. What are they doing if not following up on a really hot lead like this? (oh yeah, looking at porn, and now reviewing Reg D filings for missing information - brilliant!). Not only did I have a vast amount of information that this fraudster had emailed me, but I was offering to help catch him in the act! I spent over 3 hours researching him and filling out the forms, doing the right thing I thought, and providing a detailed case against the guy both in my interaction but also reflecting how he had been doing it to other people as well, and they don't call me back?

For more on Alex Barta, Patriot Financial Group, and others involved in their scams see
here, here, and here.

His email today has the subject line "USD $500K+ DIVIDEND PPP FUNDS DO NOT MOVE. NO ACCOUNT BLOCKING." I'm not going to waste the time reporting it again, but maybe potential victims will do a quick google search and see this post before he scams them out of their money.


crabsofsteel said...

Why is anything new here? SEC is still staffed by lawyers and not anyone who knows markets. FINRA levies light fines and finger-wags "don't do it again".

Anonymous said...

The folks in SEC's enforcement divison probably thought that the cost of pursuing this fraud would result in them ending up on an inspector general's report and a WaPo article about 'taxpayer money' being mispent..the culture in DC for those civil servants with serious jobs to do hasn't been healthy for a while..

Anonymous said...

I know this Barta character...moves from one scam to another. I too am mystified as to why SEC doesn't act...he breaks all the rules. What about civil action? I think I know of a way to get to this scumbag. A lot of his victims are in contact, but I haven't found a way to contact them. There's a guy named Sheldon who has posted about him, but I don't no how to reach him. Any suggestions?