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NC SOS

Latest Enforcement News

  • (2020-09-08) A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, of Sanford, NC, with fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and firearms offenses. The charges were announced today in federal court (see press release). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Secretary of State are investigating the case. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office, Apex Police Department, and Sanford Police Department, also provided assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • (2020-08-13) Graham, N.C. Man Is Sentenced To More Than Five Years For $1.1 Million Investment Scheme. (Press Release.)
  • (2020-08-03) Anthony Wayne March, 49, of Wake Forest, NC, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud for his role in an $8.1 million Ponzi scheme. For more details, please see this press release.
  • (2020-06-11) Joseph Maurice Deberry, a/k/a Joseph Maurice Dewberry, 56, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer yesterday and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for orchestrating an investment scheme that defrauded victims of hundreds of thousands of dollars, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. For more information, see this press release.
  • (2020-05-26) A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed today revealing that Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, of Sanford, NC, has been charged with fraud and money laundering (see press release). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Secretary of State are investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • (2020-03-31) NC Secretary of State Offers Tips to Avoid COVID-19 Related Investment Scams
  • (2019-11-21) *UPDATE: See the information at 2020-08-03 above.* United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that a federal grand jury had returned an Indictment charging ANTHONY WAYNE MARCH, 48, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, with one count of Securities Fraud; three counts of Wire Fraud; one count of Bankruptcy Fraud; one count of Obstruction of Bankruptcy Case; three counts of False Oaths; and four counts of Money Laundering. The indictment follows an investigation by the NC Secretary of State’s Securities Division and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. For more information, click here.
  • (2019-10-30) NASAA 2020 Fee Announcement -- The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) today announced the continued waiver of Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) system fees for state-registered investment adviser firms. NASAA also announced $5 increases in the IARD system fee for state-registered investment adviser representatives and the Electronic Filing Depository (EFD) system use fee for Form D, Rule 506 filings, effective January 1, 2020. Click the link for more details.
  • (2018-02-15) CFTC Issues First Pump-and-Dump Virtual Currency Customer Protection Advisory
  • (2018-01-11) FINRA Provides Guidance on Protecting Personal Information in Required Filings

Cease & Desist Orders

A summary cease & desist order is issued by the Securities Division when it appears that ongoing activity violates the North Carolina Securities Act or the North Carolina Investment Advisers Act and poses the threat of irreparable harm to the investing public. The cease & desist order commands those who receive it to stop any further violations and to comply with the requirements of the securities laws. At the time of issuance of a summary order, the persons named in the order have not had the opportunity to respond to its allegations. The order notifies those persons that they may request a hearing on whether the allegations are true. If no hearing is requested, the Division will issue a final order confirming the allegations as true. A final order terminates the controversy between the parties and concludes the issues in the proceeding, unless and until it is vacated or set aside.

Criminal Enforcement
& Administrative Actions


On November 9, 2020, the Securities Division of the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State issued a Temporary Cease and Desist Order to respondents, Claybourne Glenn Bass and Claybourne Glen Bass, LLC. The order found the respondents were transacting business in the State of North Carolina in violation of the North Carolina Securities Act. The Temporary Order to Cease and Desist ordered each respondent to immediately cease and desist from violating the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act; entering into investment contracts with the public; offering for sale, soliciting offers to purchase, or selling, any security and otherwise holding itself out to be or engaging in the business of securities dealer or salesman. The Temporary Order to Cease and Desist gives respondents 30 days in which to request a hearing. If no such request is made during that time, the Temporary Order to Cease and Desist shall become final. For more information, click here.

On September 8, 2020, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, of Sanford, NC, with fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and firearms offenses. The charges were announced in federal court (see press release) today during an initial appearance. According to the first section of the superseding indictment, Houchins operated a number of real estate development companies in Raleigh between 2014 and 2018, including Rossshire Development LLC, Greenstone Ventures LLC, and Modern South Development LLC. The indictment charges that Houchins used these entities to carry out a fraud upon his real estate development investors. According to the second part of the superseding indictment, the grand jury began to investigate Houchins in 2018 concerning the aforementioned offenses. Following the issuance of subpoenas to his attorney and to his various real estate companies, Houchins only produced a small number of documents to the grand jury. Instead, the indictment alleges that Houchins admitted in a February 2020 letter that he had “destroyed all of the evidence.” The superseding indictment also alleges that Houchins, who had recently separated from his wife, began to send her harassing messages. The indictment alleges that Houchins’ wife obtained a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) barring Houchins from contacting, threatening or harassing his wife. While Houchins was already prohibited from possessing a firearm due to his status as a convicted felon, the DVPO further prohibited Houchins from possessing a firearm. The superseding indictment then alleges that in March of 2020, Houchins communicated to friends of his wife that she had “run to the police” and that Houchins has “no mercy on a lying rat.” Around one month later, the superseding indictment alleges that Houchins sent threatening communications to friends and family of his wife, including photographs of Houchins wearing a mask and tactical vest. The superseding indictment then charges that, following his internet searches for “killing your wife over love,” Houchins was arrested. At the time of his arrest, Houchins was in possession of a Ruger AR-15, 4 magazines, a double canister magazine containing 100 rounds of ammunition, two boxes of .223-caliber ammunition, and a tactical vest. Houchins is charged with nine counts of Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, each of which carry a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Houchins is charged with three counts of Conducting Monetary Transactions in Criminally Derived Property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957, each of which carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Count 13 of the Superseding Indictment charges Obstruction of Justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(c)(1), which carries a maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Lastly, Houchins is charged with Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Possession of Firearm by Person Subject with a DVPO, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1) and (g)(8). Both of these offenses carry a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Secretary of State are investigating the case. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office, Apex Police Department, and Sanford Police Department, also provided assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. For additional information, please see the entry at May 26, 2020, below.

On August 13, 2020, Mark Colin Ramsey, 50, of Graham, N.C., was sentenced to 65 months in prison for operating a $1.1 million investment scheme. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger also ordered Ramsey to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $1,098,333.92. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall joins U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray in making this announcement. According to filed court documents and statements made in court, from April 2008 to September 2013, Ramsey defrauded more than 20 victims out of nearly $1.1 million through a fraudulent investment scheme. Court records show that Ramsey operated various purported investment companies, including Hypertrend, Cascade Investments, GH Gardner, Layton-McCall, Pandrox, and Good Living. Ramsey induced victim-investors by falsely representing that their money would be used to make legitimate investments. He also promised his victims that they would receive a guaranteed return on their investments, and that their principal investments would not be at risk. During the relevant time period, Ramsey used multiple purported investment corporations, as well as numerous fraudulent documents, including false Form-1099s, fake investment agreements, and fabricated stock certificates, to convince potential victims his investments were legitimate and profitable. To further induce victims, court records reflect that Ramsey showed potential investors documents purportedly backing up his claim that he had made one million dollars from a ten thousand dollar investment. According to court records, Ramsey failed to disclose to his victims, some of whom were at or near retirement age, that he was not registered to sell securities in the State of North Carolina, or that the investment opportunities he presented were not registered as required by statute. Rather than invest the victims’ money as promised, Ramsey spent the investors’ money on Ponzi-style payments to other investors and to fund his personal lifestyle. On August 26, 2019, Ramsey pleaded guilty to securities fraud. In making today’s announcement, U.S Attorney Murray thanked the Securities Division of the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State for their investigation of this case. (Press Release.)

On August 3, 2020, Anthony Wayne March, of Wake Forest, NC, pleaded guilty to wire fraud for his role in an $8.1 million Ponzi scheme (see press release). According to court documents, March, 49 years old, operated the non-profit 501(c)(3) entity Asset Trader, located in Rolesville, NC, between 2012 to 2015. March represented that Asset Trader offered educational services to professionals and taxpayers in the area of exit planning. Asset Trader’s stated educational mission allowed it to obtain classification as a 28 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. Asset Trader used its §501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to solicit tax-deductible donations in exchange for charitable gift annuities (“CGAs”) and to recruit referral sources to obtain assets from potential donors. Through Asset Trader, March and his co-conspirators engaged in and executed what is commonly known as a “Ponzi” scheme to defraud investors by inducing them to invest with Asset Trader. The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), and the North Carolina Secretary of State, Securities Division conducted the investigation in this matter. The Office of the U.S. Bankruptcy Administrator for the Eastern District of North Carolina provided substantial assistance. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes, Special Assistant United States Attorney Brian Behr, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Harrington represent the United States. For additional information, see the entry at November 21, 2019 below.

On June 11, 2020, Joseph Maurice Deberry, a/k/a Joseph Maurice Dewberry, 56, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer on June 11, 2020, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for orchestrating an investment scheme that defrauded victims of hundreds of thousands of dollars, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. According to admissions Deberry made in plea documents and the June 11th plea hearing, from 2016 through June 2019, Deberry fraudulently obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars from more than a dozen investors. As part of the scheme, Deberry induced victims to invest in entities with which he was affiliated, such as Pinnacle Investment Properties, LLC and Place Capital Group LLC, among others. Deberry typically represented to investors that their money would be used to further projects related to the construction of student housing at certain colleges in the Carolinas and other ventures. As Deberry admitted in court and in related filings, rather than use the victims’ money as he had represented, Deberry used a significant portion of their funds to pay for personal expenses like rent, entertainment and travel. Further, Deberry actively concealed from his victims the fact that he was under a Cease and Desist Order from the North Carolina Secretary of State's Securities Division prohibiting him from offering for sale, soliciting offers to purchase, or selling any securities in North Carolina (see entry at March 6, 2012 below). Deberry concealed this information from victims by, among other things, telling them that his name was Maurice Dewberry. Deberry pleaded guilty to wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date for Deberry has not been set. For more information, see this press release.

On May 26, 2020, a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed revealing that an indictment had been returned against Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, of Sanford, NC, charging him with nine counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering (see press release). According to the indictment, Houchins operated a number of real estate development companies in Raleigh between 2014 and 2018, including Rossshire Development LLC, Greenstone Ventures LLC, and Modern South Development LLC. The indictment charges that Houchins used these entities to carry out a fraud upon his real estate development investors. According to the indictment, Houchins solicited investment monies by telling victims that their money would be “put to work” on a specific property, and further represented that the investments would be secured by deeds of trust filed with the county register of deeds that was the subject of the investment. In fact, Houchins did not put all of the investor funds to work on the property on which the investor was solicited to invest, and instead, regularly used investor funds on other properties, or on personal expenses. Likewise, the investor promissory notes were not secured by a deed of trust as promised. In some instances, Houchins did not even own the property that was the subject of the investment, and as such, could not truthfully grant a deed of trust to the investor. The indictment alleges that after Houchins diverted investor money away from the property on which the funds were supposed to be spent, Houchins failed to develop and sell the properties, as he represented he would. Houchins then defaulted on the notes by failing to pay investors their promised returns. The investors were unable to foreclose upon the investment properties because Houchins had not secured the promissory notes with a deed of trust filed, thereby resulting in losses to the investors. Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Secretary of State are investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case. For additional information, please see the entry at September 8, 2020, above. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

On April 16, 2020, the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, Securities Division entered into a Final Consent Order ("Order") with Ferry Capital Management, LLC ("FCM") and Paul Edward Ferry. The Order found that Respondents transacted business in North Carolina as an investment adviser and an investment adviser representative without being registered, in violation of the North Carolina Investment Advisers Act ("Act"). Pursuant to the Order, FCM and Ferry agreed to immediately cease and desist from violating any provisions of the Act and any related administrative rules; keep FCM's Form ADV updated; hire a third-party compliance auditor; attend the Securities Division's Investment Adviser Best Practices Workshop; and pay both a civil penalty and the cost of investigation. For more information, click here.

On February 26, 2020, Rozalia Ann Kramer, 51, was sentenced in US District Court in Winston-Salem, NC, to a total term of imprisonment of 24 months for wire fraud and money laundering. In addition to prison time, Kramer was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $90,000 and a special assessment of $100.00. A forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $102,000 was also imposed. Kramer pleaded guilty on October 8, 2019. Her case was jointly investigated by the US Postal Inspection Service’s White Collar Crimes Task Force and the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State Securities Division. According to documents filed with the Court, Kramer met elderly World War II veteran J.V.M. while in line at the K&W Cafeteria at Friendly Center shopping center in Greensboro. After speaking in line with J.V.M., Kramer dined with him. She then began to socialize with the elderly widower regularly eating with him and meeting him on social occasions, J.V.M. owned a residence on Forest Hill Drive in Greensboro, free of any liens or mortgages. He had lived in the house since the 1950s and raised his family there. However, in 2015 J.V.M. began to reach the bottom of his retirement savings. He approached at least one bank and attempted to arrange a reverse mortgage. He then approached his friend Kramer who had told him that she was a wealthy real estate investor. Kramer represented that she could provide J.V.M. with a reverse mortgage and would provide him a life estate that would allow him to live in the Forest Hill Drive property for the rest of his life. J.V.M. agreed and gave Kramer a deed to the property. However, Kramer included the Forest Hill Drive property as part of a group of properties used to induce a loan from B2R Finance. J.V.M. was unaware that B2R Finance gained a first security interest in the Forest Hill Drive property. At the closing of the loan from B2R Finance, Kramer directed that $146,000 of the proceeds be wired to J.V.M.’s bank account representing the money to be from the purported reverse mortgage. Kramer provided J.V.M. with a life estate in the Forest Hill Drive property, but the life estate was subordinate to the first deed of trust. Kramer then induced J.V.M. to part with half of the proceeds of the purported “reverse mortgage.” She induced him to loan $75,000.00 to a corporation she controlled and gave J.V.M. a promissory note due in one year. These funds were converted to Kramer’s use and never repaid to the victim. Instead, Kramer moved to Colorado and broke off all contact with J.V.M. She made no payments to B2R Finance on the loan, and B2R foreclosed. J.V.M. continued to live in the Forest Hill Drive property secure in his belief that he had a life estate in the property. However, the life estate was extinguished when B2R Finance foreclosed, and J.V.M. was evicted. From Colorado, Kramer moved to Wyoming in an attempt to avoid victims of her frauds who were seeking repayment. She ultimately took a job working on an isolated hunting ranch 15 miles outside Wheatland, Wyoming. She lived in housing owned by the ranch and drove a vehicle registered under a corporate name. Despite these attempts to avoid justice, Postal Inspectors from Greensboro, North Carolina, and Laramie, Wyoming, located Kramer, and arrested her at the ranch. The victim died in 2019. At sentencing, his daughter testified that the eviction had a devastating impact on her father. Kramer was taken into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing. For more information, please see the press release.

On February 18, 2020, the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, Securities Division entered into a Final Consent Order (“Order”) with Joseph M. Murtagh, Jr. and Joseph M. Murtagh, Jr. d/b/a The Source. The Order states that The Source and Murtagh violated North Carolina law during at least some of the years they transacted business in North Carolina as an investment adviser and an investment adviser representative without registering pursuant to the North Carolina Investment Advisers Act. Pursuant to the Order, The Source and Murtagh agreed to immediately cease and desist from violating any provisions of the North Carolina Investment Advisers Act or Securities Act and any related administrative rules, to pay a registration fee, to pay a civil penalty, and to pay a sum to the Investor Protection and Education Trust Fund. For more information, click here.

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