A Web site operator and e-mail marketer charged with fraudulently raising more than $100,000 by falsely guaranteeing double-digit, insured monthly returns on three websites and in approximately nine million spam e-mail messages has agreed to settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Without admitting or denying the allegations made by the SEC, K.C. Smith, a 20-year-old currently residing in Kentucky, signed a consent decree announced Monday with the SEC agreeing to pay $107,510 in restitution and pre-judgment interest. During the time of the alleged violations Smith was unemployed and lived in Davie, Fla., and Johnson City and Nashville, Tenn.
The complaint claims from May to September 2002, Smith created and maintained what purported to be an official website for the Maryland Investment Club (MIC), a fictitious investment club, which claimed to offer potential investors double-digit monthly returns on “high-yield international tax-free” investment opportunities. Smith advertised the MIC website in approximately six million e-mail messages he sent from May through August 2002.
Recipients of the e-mail messages who wished to learn more about the purported MIC investment opportunities were instructed to send a reply e-mail. Those who replied were sent a subsequent e-mail that contained a link to the MIC website.
According to the SEC, the MIC website advertised “high-yield international tax-free investing” where “[e]very dime you invest is 100% guaranteed” by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). The website claimed that the “CDIC insures the entire principle [sic] investment with us up to $60,000USD per account.”
As a result of the MIC offering, Smith collected $78,909.41 from 26 investors.
The complaint also alleges that between May and February 2003 Smith created websites for two fictitious investment opportunities, including a site for Kryer Financial, a fictitious investment company offering double-digit monthly returns on investments purportedly insured by the “United States Deposit Insurance Corporation” or “USDIC,” another entity invented by Smith.
Smith is also alleged to have created a website for the USDIC featuring the Commission’s official seal and claiming that investments through Kryer Financial were fully insured against loss.
In addition, the complaint contends Smith took steps to conceal his identity, including calling potential investors on disposable cellular telephones, using stolen service provider accounts to access the internet, and collecting investor funds through online payment services that maintain payee confidentiality.