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SEC Litigation Update: Florida Director of Investments Charged in Scheme Targeted at Elderly Investors

Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a litigation update in DeAndre P. Sears and his company MASears LLC (the Picasso Group). The federal regulator alleges that Mr. Sears improperly sold more than $25 million in securities to more than 140 retails. The investors targeted by the scheme were disproportionately elderly. In this article, our Miami elder financial fraud attorneys provide an overview of the securities fraud complaint.

SEC Complaint: Deandre P. Sears and the Picasso Group

In the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the SEC filed a complaint against Deandre P. Sears and the Picasso Group. According to the SEC, Mr. Sears was the sole owner and operator of the Picasso Group. Using the company, Mr. Sears allegedly acted as an unregistered broker on behalf of the Florida-based real estate firm EquiAlt, LLC. The Picasso Group sold more than $25 million in unregistered EquiAlt, LLC securities to investors. Notably, federal authorities have previously taken enforcement action against EquiAlt, LLC—charging it as a Ponzi scheme.

EquiAlt, LLC Was Charged as a Ponzi Scheme  

In February of 2020, the SEC filed Ponzi scheme charges against EquiAlt, LLC, its CEO Brian Davidson, and other connected individuals and entities. Between early 2016 and early 2020, the EquiAlt Ponzi scheme is believed to have taken in approximately $175 million from more than 1,100 different investors.

Similar to other real estate Ponzi schemes, EquiAlt made representations to investors that their money was being “pooled” to purchase underpriced assets. In reality, a large portion of investor funds were simply being siphoned off. Indeed, the SEC contends that less than half of the money raised by EquiAlt was ever used to obtain real estate. 

The Picasso Group is Charged With Violations of Federal Securities Law 

In connection with the EquiAlt real estate Ponzi scheme, Deandre P. Sears and the Picasso Group are charged with violations of securities law, including the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchanges Act of 1934. While acting as an unregistered broker pushing EquiAlt securities on elderly investors, Mr. Sears allegedly got $3.5 million in financial compensation through commissions and fees.

Update: Mr. Sears has Reached a Settlement With the SEC 

Without admitting or denying any wrongdoing in this case, Deandre P. Sears has agreed to accept an entry of judgment by the SEC. Among other things, the stipulation calls or injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and payment of monetary penalties. The specific financial sanctions will be determined at a later date. 

Call Our Miami Elder Financial Fraud Lawyers Today

At ​Carlson & Associates, P.A., our Florida investment fraud attorneys have the experience and expertise to handle complex elder financial fraud claims, including unregistered securities cases. If you or your loved one was the victim of elder securities fraud, we are available to help. Call us now for a fully confidential securities fraud consultation. We represent investors in Miami and throughout the wider region.


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