Securities Investigators Arrest Two Suspected Scam Artists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pam duPré
One allegedly stole nearly $200,000 from Clark Co. victims
(Carson City, NV; March 18, 2010) – Secretary of State Ross Miller’s Securities Investigators arrested two suspected scam artists in the last week; one operating in the Reno – Carson City area and the other in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas suspect, Elizabeth Victoria DeMaria, has been charged with 11 counts of securities fraud and 11 counts of theft, all felonies. She is accused of bilking nine victims out of $199,000 in less than a year. DeMaria allegedly told her victims they were investing in a venture called The Vegas Channel (TVC), a locally themed channel that would broadcast via cable, satellite, and the internet. Investigators say she gave the “investors” the choice of a return nearly ten times their investment after 13 months or a return of 20 times their investment after 18 months. DeMaria claimed the invested funds would go towards payments on a contract TVC had with a television production company. Investigators say the contract obligation didn’t exist.
Investigators say DeMaria further misrepresented the security offer by claiming access to a board of advisors that was not affiliated with her company. She also claimed the money would be used solely to develop TVC, but her bank records show the money was deposited into an account under the name Luxury Lifestyles of Las Vegas, on which DeMaria was the sole signatory. Investigators say more than $126,000 in cash was withdrawn by DeMaria from that account, several thousand was paid to Mercedes Benz Finance, and more than $11,000 was used for various retail purchases.
DeMaria was arrested Wednesday morning. Cash bail was set at $550,000 in Las Vegas Justice Court.
Last week, securities investigators arrested Philip Edward Haskin, who operated out of a Reno office and allegedly bilked a Carson City woman out of $5,000 in July, 2008. Haskin is accused of securities fraud and theft after convincing the victim to invest $5,000 in a company called Advanced Communication Integration. Investigators say the suspect made a number of misrepresentations, saying he had made a significant personal investment in the company, that he had no prior legal problems, and that the company’s gross monthly income was nearly $1 million. Investigators say none of the statements were true, and in fact, Haskin’s company had been ordered to vacate its Reno office for failing to pay rent, and his former company had a $2,000 IRS lien filed against it. Records show Haskin’s investment offer was not properly registered as a security and he was not licensed as a broker-dealer or sales representative.
As in all criminal matters, the Secretary of State’s office cautions that allegations are only accusations and individuals are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Secretary of State Ross Miller reminded Nevadans to check with his office before they invest their hard-earned dollars.
“Always check before you invest,” he said. “There are some very persuasive con artists out there who will pounce on an individual’s desire to make money through investments. But there is no such thing as an investment that guarantees a 2000% return. It is much easier to check with our office to make sure an investment offer is legitimate than it is to recover from a devastating financial loss.”
Individuals who have questions about an investment offer can call the Secretary of State’s Securities Division at 1-800-758-6440. Information about avoiding securities fraud and making smart, sound investments can be found under the Securities Center at www.nvsos.gov.