South Carolina's top prosecutor on Tuesday ordered a Florida corporation to stop selling securities to the state's residents, saying the firm's activities may be part of a Ponzi scheme.
Attorney General Henry McMaster, whose office regulates South Carolina's securities industry, issued a cease and desist order against PPE-Life, Inc., a corporation registered in Ocala, Fla.
Prosecutors say Rick Crocker of Wilmington, N.C., and John Barter of Ocala, Fla., have traveled to Sumter, 45 miles east of Columbia, for meetings to recruit new members for an investment opportunity that promises hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual profits.
Holding itself out as the marketing arm of an international bank, PPE-Life sells memberships for an upfront fee of $600, plus monthly fees of $50, according to prosecutors. They add that those who sign up are promised unrealistic returns on that initial investment, saying they can earn up to $440,000 a year if they recruit new members.
Barter, PPE-Life's president and chief executive, denied the allegations Tuesday, saying his company makes no guarantees on potential profits.