SEC Charges Former Miami, FL Registered Representative As Part Of $16 Million Oil-And-Gas Offering Fraud Scheme
On April 14th, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced securities fraud charges against seven individuals. Among those charged is Mark Ross, a 53-year-old resident of Miami, Florida. Mr. Ross is a previously registered securities broker. He held a license from 1985 to 2007. At that time, he was sanctioned by FINRA and, subsequently, expelled from the industry after failure to pay a fine. In this article, our Miami financial advisor fraud lawyers discuss the allegations raised by federal officials in the legal complaint.
SEC Complaint: Fraud Charges Against Seven Individuals
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed its complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In addition to former South Florida registered financial advisor Mark Ross, six other individuals were named as defendants. Richard Dale Sterritt, previously convicted of felony fraud, was identified as the suspected leader of the securities fraud scheme. Notably, Mr. Sterritt used the name “Richard Richman” when raising money from investors.
$16 Million Raised as Part of a Fraudulent Oil & Gas offering
The alleged misconduct in this case occurred between March of 2018 and November of 2020. During that time, Mr. Sterritt, Mr. Ross, and other five named defendants allegedly raised more than $16 million from at least 300 different investors throughout the United States. The funds were raised in a private placement investment (unregistered securities) in a company called Zona Energy Inc.
According to the complaint filed by the SEC, Zona Energy is a Dallas, TX-based investment company focused on the oil & gas industry. In an effort to raise investment funds in Zona Energy, the SEC alleges that the named defendants made a number of different materially misleading and outright false statements to investors.
SEC: Funds Were Supposed to Develop Mineral Rights—Were Instead Siphoned Off
In soliciting investment in the oil and gas industry company Zona Energy, Mr. Sterritt, Mr. Ross, and the other named defendants allegedly informed investors that their funds would be used to develop the mineral rights at a large property in West Texas. The land in question was located on the oil-rich Permian Basin.
However, in reality, the SEC alleges that the funds were largely misappropriated. Investor money was siphoned off and used for luxury goods and other expenses of the defendants. The SEC is seeking injunctive relief to put a stop to any additional securities fraud. Additionally, the agency is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and other appropriate civil sanctions against the defendants.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Miami, FL Securities Fraud Lawyer
At Carlson & Associates, P.A., our Florida investment fraud attorneys are driven advocates for investors. We have deep experience handling complex claims, including commodities fraud cases. If you or your family member suffered investment losses in an oil-and-gas fraud scheme, we can help. Call our firm now for a confidential review and assessment of your case. From our legal office in Miami, we fight for investor rights in Southeastern Florida and beyond.