SEC Charges Pennsylvania Man in $30 Million Offering Fraud

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has initiated legal proceedings against Josh S. Verne over allegations of orchestrating a fraudulent scheme worth approximately $30 million. This scheme is believed to have ensnared more than 100 investors, with a significant number hailing from the Philadelphia region.

The SEC’s lawsuit contends that Verne swindled investors, including individuals from his personal network of friends and family. He is accused of disseminating deceptive information related to various aspects such as his past business achievements, personal wealth, his authority to amalgamate investor funds for the purchase of securities, and the alleged usage of investors’ capital. The suit alleges that between 2018 and 2020, Verne pursued investments for his online rent-to-own enterprise, Ownable, LLC, its sister company, Ownable Capital Partners I, LLC, and three other limited liability corporations he established supposedly to pool investors’ funds for investment in Ownable and two unrelated start-up ventures. Verne allegedly misappropriated at least $9.3 million of investors’ funds for personal expenses, which included private school fees, interior decoration for a beach house, chartering private jets, repayment of substantial personal loans, and making Ponzi-like payments to initial investors.

The SEC’s lawsuit, submitted to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, accuses Verne of breaching Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as well as Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The legal action seeks permanent injunctive relief, the return of fraudulently obtained profits, prejudgment interest, and civil fines.

The SEC’s investigation is currently ongoing and is being undertaken by Jennifer Miller and Jacquelyn King of the Philadelphia Regional Office. The probe is under the supervision of Assunta Vivolo, Scott A. Thompson, and Nicholas Grippo, while the litigation will be spearheaded by Karen M. Klotz and Gregory Bockin.

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