August 13, 2019/US SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges against a Brooklyn individual and two entities under his control who allegedly engaged in a fraudulent scheme to sell digital securities to investors and to manipulate the market for those securities. On Aug. 12, 2019, the court entered an emergency freeze to preserve at least $8 million of the $14.8 million the defendants raised in 2017 and 2018 in an offering of digital securities.
The SEC filed charges against Reginald “Reggie” Middleton, a self-described “financial guru,” and two entities he controls, Veritaseum, Inc. and Veritaseum, LLC (collectively Veritaseum). The Commission’s complaint, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, alleges that the Defendants marketed and sold securities called “VERI” tokens on the internet, inducing retail investors to invest based on multiple material misrepresentations and omissions. Among other things, Defendants allegedly knowingly misled investors about their prior business venture and the use of offering proceeds, touted oversized – but fictitious – investor demand for VERI, and claimed to have a product ready to generate revenue when no such product existed. The complaint further alleges that Middleton manipulated the price of the VERI tokens trading on an unregistered digital asset platform. The complaint also alleges that Middleton recently moved a significant amount of investor assets and then dissipated a portion of those assets, transferring them to Middleton’s personal account.
“After learning about Middleton’s transfer of funds, we took quick action to prevent the further dissipation of investor assets,” said Marc P. Berger, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “Whether in digital currency or plain cash, we will act to protect investor assets and to pursue fraud and manipulation in our securities markets.”
The SEC’s complaint charges Middleton and Veritaseum with violating the registration and antifraud provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws, and Middleton with additionally violating the antifraud provisions on the basis of his manipulative trading. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus interest and penalties, and a bar from offering digital securities. For Middleton, the SEC also seeks an officer-and-director bar.
The Commission’s investigation was conducted by Jorge G. Tenreiro and Victor Suthammanont of the New York Regional Office, assisted by Roseann Daniello, a staff accountant in the New York Regional Office, John O. Enright of the Cyber Unit, and IT Forensics staff Ken Zavos and Olga Cruz-Ortiz. The case is being supervised by Lara Shalov Mehraban, Associate Regional Director of the New York Regional Office. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Mr. Tenreiro and Mr. Suthammanont.