In its unending quest to prove something, for the second time today the SEC has ruined a good thing. First, it was a firm trying to raise money to get its sex-themed cruises off the ground. Now, it's Gryhpon Financial, whose management team faces securities and wire fraud. The individuals possibly going away for up to twenty years each include Kenneth Marsh, 43, Baldwin Anderson, 55, Robert Anthony Budion, 28, Jeanne Lada, 44 and James T. Levier, 34. Those names won't mean anything to the investors who got taken for a ride for more than $17.5 million, because the firm used fake names, claiming it was run by president "Michael Warren" and vice-president "Kenneth Maseka" (the latter fictional character's pedigree included degrees from Harvard, Oxford, Columbia and Wharton and job with Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs). Other (awesome) facts about the firm that turned out to be untrue included:
* An office building "in the heart of the financial world at 110 Wall St., 11th Floor." The actual office can be found at 3767 Victory Blvd., next to a martial arts school and a bakery.
* Props from George Soros, who is quoted as saying: "Alone, the Gryphon Financial are incredible, together they are unstoppable."
* Props from the FT. From Gryphon's website:
The Wolf begins to circle, claws of black steel, a beast approaches, fur as dark as night, eyes glowing red, fangs from the pit of hell itself. The Giant Wolf sniffing, savoring the scent of the meat to come – its not fear that grips them, only heightened sense of things and the anticipation of millions to be made.
Financial Times Reports - this secret group has identified as the latest hedge fund to exploit the weakening sub prime markets - pounding stocks down to nothing and making billions along the way, one hedge fund run by this group had been rammed to see returns of over 1000% in 2007. Together we beat up hedge funds that are said to have realized over 20 million from one trade.
* A ten-man trading desk (which Gryphon’s newsletter describes as being key members of its "hardcore business")
* Huge-ass returns: "One client, who shelled out $100,000, allegedly was told that a "similarly situated" investor earned a return of 1,600 percent. And Gryphon trumpeted that its investments were 'up 1,324 percent in total compounding returns in the last 16 years,' when in fact Gryphon was only formed in 2005."
Now, thanks to the SEC we can kiss marketing materials like this good-bye:
According to the SEC complaint, Gryphon marketed "exclusive investment opportunities" under monikers such as "Wolves of Wall Street," "Pure Profit," "Inner Circle" and "Mafia Trader." Gryphon described itself as the "World’s No. 1 Investment Newsletter."
Thank you, Mary Schapiro.