☷Santa Clarita Man Agrees to Plead Guilty to Securities Fraud for Bilking Investors Who Purchased Real Estate Coupon Bonds
Federal Bureau of Investigation ( By Press Release office)
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Santa Clarita Man Agrees to Plead Guilty to Securities Fraud for Bilking Investors Who Purchased Real Estate ‘Coupon Bonds’ LOS ANGELES – A Santa Clarita resident who invested in real estate and sold “coupon bonds” that promised regular interest payments on top of principal repayment has agreed to plead guilty to a federal criminal charge for defrauding investors out of more than $1 . 7 million , the Justice Department announced today . Matthew Skinner , 45 , who in 2014 founded a company called Empire West Equity , Inc . and later established Simple Growth , LLC , was charged today with securities fraud in a one - count information filed in United States District Court . Federal prosecutors today also filed a plea agreement in which Skinner agreed to plead guilty to the offense and admitted he fraudulently sold securities . Skinner used social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to promote himself , falsely claiming to be an experienced and successful real estate investor with more than $200 million in deals under his belt , according to court documents . After Empire West experienced financial troubles – Skinner was unable to pay his staff and investors – he established Simple Growth in 2018 and falsely told investors who purchased Simple Growth coupon bonds “that their money would be used to purchase real estate that [Skinner] and Empire West would develop and resell at a profit , ” according to the plea agreement . Skinner admitted that he did not intend to purchase , develop or resell real estate , and that he instead used investor funds to pay older investors , his employees and himself . Skinner “used investor funds from those entities and accounts to pay for personal trips , his mortgage , his utility bills , cosmetic surgery , and alimony payments to his ex - wife , ” he acknowledged in the plea agreement . Simple Growth raised approximately $1 , 744 , 946 from more than 20 investors – none of whom received any of their money back . The securities fraud charge against Skinner carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison . Skinner has agreed to surrender to federal authorities and make his initial court appearance on May 25 . The FBI conducted the investigation into Skinner . Assistant United States Attorney Jeff Mitchell of the Major Frauds Section is prosecuting this case .
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