SEC Halts Texas-Based Scheme Targeting Foreign Investors Seeking U.S. Residency Through EB-5 Visa Program

SEC Halts Texas-Based Scheme Targeting Foreign Investors Seeking U.S. Residency Through EB-5 Visa Program

"The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against a husband and wife in Texas for stealing funds from foreign investors under the guise of an investment opportunity to create U.S. jobs and a path to U.S. residency.

The SEC alleges that Marco and Bebe Ramirez and three companies they own have fraudulently raised at least $5 million from investors by falsely promising that their money would be invested as part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program. Through the program, foreign investors can earn conditional visas and eventually green cards by making investments in U.S. economic development projects that will create or preserve a minimum number of jobs for U.S. workers. Instead of investing the money as promised, the Ramirezes routinely diverted investor funds to other undisclosed businesses and for their personal use. In at least one instance, they used new investor funds to make Ponzi-like payments to an existing investor.

According to the SEC’s complaint unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the Ramirezes initially targeted investors in Mexico, but more recently have solicited investors in Egypt and Nigeria. The court has granted the SEC’s request to freeze the assets and accounts of the Ramirezes and their three companies: USA Now LLC, USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, and Now Co. Loan Services." - SEC, Oct. 1, 2013.