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Securities News Releases
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Contact: Communications Department, (573) 526-0949
Carnahan exposes investment scheme in St. Peters, Mo.
Jefferson City, MO — Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan today announced an enforcement action against Michael Kitchen of St. Peters, his company PIF Financial Services, LLC, and others concerning the alleged sale of unregistered investments in an apparent classic high-yield investment program scam.
According to the cease-and-desist order issued by officials in Carnahan’s securities division, Kitchen accepted investment funds from at least five investors in a program he assured investors was risk-free and promised astronomical returns in as little as 30 days. These actions are indicative of high-yield investment programs state securities regulators often encounter, which lead to major losses for investors.
The order alleges that at least five investors lost in excess of $800,000 through a trading program Kitchen purportedly set up under specific “International Chamber of Commerce” guidelines. One investor was an 80-year-old from St. Joseph, Mo., who invested $100,000 with Kitchen and PIF in 2008 and has not received any return on investment or refund of investment funds.
“High-yield investment programs often turn out to be scams,” Carnahan said. “Promises of unbelievable returns, no risk and claims of being connected to financially sound institutions are a recipe for fraud.”
The order alleges in excess of $300,000 of investor funds were used by Kitchen for expenses unrelated to investments. Kitchen allegedly used investor funds to purchase cars and pet supplies, to pay for rent, meals and entertainment and for cash withdrawals that appear to be unrelated to investments he offered.
When investors and agents asked about delays in receiving the promised returns, Kitchen provided a letter that he purported was from Bank of America and indicated that PIF had in excess of $800 million in an account. The letter indicated the money would be immediately available upon receipt of supposed “release codes” from the Securities and Exchange Commission; however, when contacted by the securities division, officials at Bank of America determined they had not issued the document.
The cease-and-desist order alleges that PIF, Kitchen, Daniel Hance, Dion Monroe and Shannon Ingram offered and sold unregistered securities, and PIF and Kitchen committed securities fraud by providing untrue information to investors and misleading investors as to how their funds would be spent. The order alleges that Garlanda Kitchen and Premier Mortgage Solutions, LLC, materially assisted these violations.
Respondents face up to $190,000 in penalties and costs and the possibility of paying restitution to harmed investors. Respondents have 30 days to request a hearing and contest this matter. The securities division is cooperating in this matter with other law enforcement agencies/government agencies.
For more information regarding investments and fraud protection, or for information regarding a company or representative, visit the secretary of state’s online Investor Protection Center at www.MissouriInvestorProtection.gov or call the toll-free Investor Protection Hotline at 800-721-7996.
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To find out more about Missouri's secretary of state's office, visit www.sos.mo.gov.