A Princeton couple has been accused by New Jersey authorities of conducting a $5 million Ponzi scheme to finance a lavish lifestyle that included”country clubs, private schools, and tropical holidays.” Ford and Katherine Graham were named in a lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities accusing the couple of numerous violations of the New Jersey Uniform Securities Law. The complaint seeks disgorgement of any profits, restitution for investors, imposition of civil penalties, and injunctive relief.
Ford Graham commanded and operated a number of companies including CCC Holdings, Specialty Fuels Americas, LLC, Aries Energy Group Venture, LLC, Rattler Partners, LLC, and Vulcan Energy International, LLC (the”Companies”). Beginning in 2013, Graham solicited investors to the companies through promises that their funds would be utilized for particular oil and gas projects carrying little to no risk. For example, one purported job claimed that investor funds would be used to obtain a controlling interest in a company that purportedly had a claim against oil company British Petroleum deriving from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which was worth between $7 million and $9 million. Another investment opportunity guaranteed guaranteed 6% yearly returns from a”Dominican Republic Oil Transaction,” while another investment promised that capital could be utilised to build a tank. In total, Graham increased more than $5 million from unsuspecting investors.
According to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, Graham’s claims were false and in reality investor funds were utilized to perpetrate a Ponzi scheme where new investor funds were used to pay purported yields and distributions to existing investors as well as funding the Grahams’ lavish lifestyle. The complaint details the alleged misappropriation of investor funds from several investments, including transfers to other shareholders and also to Katherine Graham, spending for an Antiguan hotel and at the couple’s country club, and payments to the private school in which the Grahams’ child attended. While Ford Graham is accused of playing a primary role in recruiting investors, the complaint also alleges that Katherine Graham – who received a law degree from Tulane University – urged at least one purchaser to invest depending on the safety of the investment, which she was also planning to invest, and that period was of the character if the investor wanted to realize the promised return.