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SEC Charges Two Texas-Based Investment Advisors Over Alleged $18 Million Ponzi Scheme

Stephen Little

9 December 2013

The US has charged two Austin, TX-based investment advisors for allegedly operating an $18 million ponzi scheme involving purported investments in oil and gas projects.

According to a complaint filed by the SEC last week, Robert Helms and Janniece Kaelin misled investors about their experience in the oil and gas industry while raising nearly $18 million for supposed purchases of oil and gas royalty interests. 

The SEC alleges that Helms and Kaelin only used only a fraction of the offering proceeds for that purpose and that a vast majority of investor funds were used to make ponzi payments and cover various personal and business expenses.

While promising that they would use more than 99 per cent of the investment proceeds to acquire oil and gas royalty interests, they invested only 10 per cent of the proceeds. The SEC said Helms and Kaelin began offering investments in 2011 through Vendetta Royalty Partners and attracted at least 80 investors in more than 12 states.

The SEC’s complaint also charges Deven Sellers of Arvada, CO, and Roland Barrera of Costa Mesa, CA, with illegally selling investments for Helms and Kaelin without being registered with the SEC. They also allegedly misled investors about the sales commissions and referral fees they were receiving.