A federal grand jury has indicted an unlicensed investment adviser for allegedly defrauding at least 15 people, including members of his Los Angeles-area synagogue and the Jewish community.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Monday that it filed a seven-count indictment against Motty Mizrahi on wire fraud charges. The indictment was returned on July 18.
Mizrahi and his firm, MBIG Company, which operated out of his parents’ home, have been accused of scamming people out of more than $3 million from June 2012 to March 2019, according to an indictment brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
In late March, Mizrahi, 46, and his brother, Sassi Mizrahi, 53, were arrested on federal charges of wire fraud and fabricating account statements.
Motty Mizrahi, who had no broker registration or CPA license, “guaranteed” returns of between 2 percent and 3 percent monthly, as he told clients that his investment strategy was free of risk, and that investors’ principal could be retrieved “on demand,” according to an SEC complaint in March, when the SEC shut down MBIG as a federal judge in the Central District of California granted a preliminary injunction against Mizrahi and his firm.
Mizrahi said that he would be compensated solely by sharing 25 percent of clients’ profits.
However, MBIG had no brokerage account or its own bank account. Mizrahi’s clients sent their money to his personal banking account, in which Mizrahi allocated at least $1.4 million to that account, according to the SEC complaint, which mentioned that Mizrahi lost more than $2.2 million over the past four years.
The complaint also accuses Mizrahi of attracting clients by showing them fake MBIG monthly statements indicating positive account balances and “monthly gains from MBIG’s trading, even when the only brokerage account Mizrahi traded suffered losses. When clients demand[ed] proof of MBIG’s securities holdings, Mizrahi falsely [told] them that MBIG has an active brokerage account at E-Trade and, as ‘proof,’ he show[ed] clients fabricated brokerage statements reflecting a multi-million dollar balance — most recently, $9.4 million — for a MBIG account at E-Trade.”
But MBIG never had an account at the electronic trading platform, which shuttered Mizrahi’s personal accounts as of November 2018.
The SEC complaint accuses Mizrahi of telling clients to provide false information to the federal agency regarding their investments with MBIG and to say that their investments in the firm were “loans.”
If convicted in the criminal case, the Mizrahi brothers could face up to 20 years behind bars.