The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has accused a Miami-based payday loan company and its CEO of defrauding its investors.
The second announced the charges Monday (September 27) against Sky Group USA LLC and Efrain Betancourt, Jr., its managing director, for fraudulently raising at least $ 66 million by selling promissory notes to more than 500 retail investors, many of whom were from the South of Florida’s Venezuelan-American community.
In a complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the commission says Sky and Betancourt lied to investors by claiming that investors’ money would only be used to make payday loans and cover the cost of these loans.
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“In reality, Betancourt has embezzled at least $ 2.9 million for personal gain – including for her lavish wedding in a castle on the French Riviera, her vacation to Disney resorts and the Caribbean, the costs associated with buying a luxury condominium in Miami and self-service. Piper, ”the SEC said in its Press release.
The SEC claims Betancourt has also transferred at least $ 3.6 million to friends and relatives, including his ex-wife Angela Betancourt, who is named as a defendant. Sky Group and Betancourt are also said to have used at least $ 19.2 million in investor cash to make “Ponzi-type payments” to other investors.
Finally, the SEC accuses Sky and Betancourt of promising investors annual returns of up to 120%, when the company failed to generate enough money to cover principal and interest owed to investors.
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“As alleged in our complaint, Sky Group and Betancourt have attracted unsuspecting investors, including many members of the Venezuelan community in South Florida, with false claims and promises of high return, low risk investments.” said Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami regional office. “We continue to caution investors to be wary of any investment that promises returns that are too good to be true.”