Investigations carried out by the Receiver for Pompano-based MJ Capital Funding, have revealed that the number of investors in the alleged ponzi is more than double than originally believed.
In August, the SEC successfully persuaded a judge to place MJ Capital in Receivership after providing a convincing argument that the company was engaged in an active securities fraud and that the assets should be preserved. At the time, the SEC estimated that there were as many as 2,150 investors and that the amount raised ranged somewhere between $70M and $129M.
Now with better access to the internal workings of the business, the Receiver says that there are actually more than 5,000 investors and that they expect this number to increase, according to recent court filings.
Also revealed is that more than 400 individuals were tasked with recruiting investors.
“While MJ Capital claimed to use investor funds to provide small business loans called Merchant Cash Advances, the Receiver’s investigation to date has revealed virtually no evidence of legitimate business activity involving the funding and collection of Merchant Cash Advances which proceeds could have funded the payments to investors,” the Receiver said in official papers.
The case is ongoing.
More than 3,200 people have come out in support of MJ Capital Funding’s CEO, believing that she is also a victim in what has befallen the company.
Fundomate Announces $50 Million Line of Credit to Bring Embedded Automated Funding and Real-Time Banking to Payments and SMB MarketplacesSeptember 30, 2021
Los Angeles, September 30, 2021 — Fundomate, a leading embedded finance provider of automated business funding solutions and real-time banking tools for merchant-facing platforms, announced the closing of a $50 million line of credit with Revere Capital today. The new line of credit is Fundomate’s largest to date.
Fundomate will leverage the credit facility to scale up its partnerships with merchant-facing businesses and grow the company’s new white-label banking platform. The platform enables merchant-facing platforms and marketplaces to rapidly expand their product suite and enhance engagement by offering automated financing and embedded banking tools under their own brand.
“With the closing of the $50 million credit line, Fundomate can scale its proven automated funding platform via its one-touch funding tool already embedded within 100+ payment processing partners and marketplaces”, says Sam Schapiro, CEO and Founder of Fundomate. “We’re excited to also focus on our new embedded real-time banking platform, which uses AI and advanced forecasting to provide our partners the ability to offer their customers free short-term working capital that’s available for immediate use.”
Revere Capital Managing Director Christopher Gilker said, “We’re incredibly excited to grow with Fundomate. As I tell all my colleagues, Fundomate is a company at the right place at the right time. The team is ambitious, and I have no doubt the company will disrupt the fintech, payments, and banking space in a big way.”
Revere Capital Managing Director Suman Mallick commented further, saying, “I’m very excited about Fundomate’s potential to change how businesses manage their banking and credit needs. I believe the company will benefit from strong secular tailwinds and has vast opportunities for growth with merchant-facing businesses throughout the US.”
Waterford Capital structured and arranged the line of credit on behalf of Fundomate. Dave Piotrowski, Managing Director at Waterford Capital, said, “Fundomate has an advantage over others in the merchant finance space through the products offered through their payment processor partners. This financing relationship with Revere Capital will help take the company to the next level and further broaden their competitive advantage.”
Fundomate is an innovative fintech company that operates in the alternative lending space and provides both direct-to-business and white-labeled turnkey solutions, enabling merchant-facing platforms to offer alternative funding products to their customers as a value-added proposition.
The company has deployed over $100M to more than 2000 merchants across various industries in
the United States.
About Revere Capital
Revere Capital is a private credit manager with expertise in lower middle-market real estate bridge lending & specialty finance. The firm’s disciplined underwriting utilizes fundamental real estate analysis and research, emphasizing intrinsic value to create a diversified portfolio for investors. Revere also specializes in financing other commercial interests, consumer interests and insurance-backed interests. With a national footprint, Revere Capital offers speed, certainty of execution, and creativity to structure loans to fit borrowers’ needs and provide contractual income for investors.
About Waterford Capital
Waterford Capital is a leading arranger of structured finance and asset securitization transactions. The firm advises specialty finance companies and asset managers in connection with warehouse credit facilities, private placements of asset-backed securities, whole loan sale programs, and mezzanine and equity capital raises.
MJ Capital Funding investors holding out hope that a return to business as usual could be in the cards for the company accused of being a ponzi scheme, might find that outcome a little less likely.
The Receiver has agreed to auction off all of the assets at the company’s Pompano Beach offices on September 28, and everything must go, from the 60″ TV to the garbage cans to the houseplant.
Such powers afforded to the Receiver, a law firm partner named Corali Lopez-Castro, also gives her the ability to enter into binding legal agreements on behalf of the company, the latest ones being Consent Agreements with the SEC. In doing this, the two MJ companies (MJ Capital Funding, LLC and MJ Taxes and More Inc.), have agreed to disgorge of “ill-gotten gains,” accept a civil penalty, and be permanently restrained from continuing its former business. Such an arrangement is standard fare when companies are thrust into forced Receiverships like this one. The Receiver’s job will be to collect as much money as possible so that it can be distributed to afflicted investors.
The MJ Capital Funding Website has also been shut down. It now forwards to law firm Kozyak, Tropin, Throckmorton. Regular updates on the case are available for free at: https://kttlaw.com/mjcapital/.
The consent orders do not apply to former CEO Johanna M. Garcia individually, who lost control of the company and ability to act on the company’s behalf when it was placed into Receivership.
An astounding 3,160 people have signaled their support for Garcia in this case. That’s the number of signatures on the online petition for her located on change.org.
“Our goal with this petition is to get those funds unfrozen as soon as possible,” it says. “This is Johanna’s desire as well proving once again Johanna’s unwavering support for us and in building a strong team and community. Johanna has helped countless amounts of people and charities with the work she does local and worldwide.”
The primary defendant in the MJ Capital Funding case agreed to an extended asset freeze, court records show. Her consent is not an admission of guilt to the civil charges. The SEC has already sufficiently demonstrated its strength of prevailing in the case, which is why the judge ordered the companies be placed into receivership from the outset.
The consent order, entered on the 8th, covers 9 bank accounts held at both Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, in addition to ten credit cards. MJ Capital’s CEO agreed to live off of income derived from two unrelated businesses known as MJ Remodeling and MJ Realty to the tune of $72,800 a year combined. That could change, however, if the SEC determines those businesses are also connected with the alleged scheme. $100,000 that was paid to her lawyer in advance will stand and can be used for her legal defense.
The only unusual bank record disclosed in the papers is a purported account at a small cryptocurrency hedge fund.
Nearly 2,900 people have signed an online petition voicing support for MJ Capital accused’s CEO.
The Receiver is providing regular court filing updates at: https://kttlaw.com/mjcapital/
Justin Cheng’s website said his company, Celeri Network, could help business owners get a loan between $5,000 and $5 million. Rife with all the familiar lingo commonly found on loan broker websites, Celeri Network gave the appearance of an everyday small business finance company.
Unfortunately for unsuspecting customers, Cheng took his own approach with applicants, telling them that they had to pay upfront refundable “due diligence fees” to help them secure funding. Of course, when the funding never came through, he failed to deliver refunds to the tune of $380,000.
That was only the tip of the iceberg for Cheng who was sentenced to 72 months in prison this week for a litany of schemes including this one.
According to the Department of Justice, “Cheng used the identity of other individuals to submit online applications to the SBA and at least five financial institutions for a total of over $7 million in government-guaranteed loans through the SBA’s PPP and EIDL Program for several companies controlled by CHENG, namely Alchemy Finance, Inc., Alchemy Guarantor LLC d/b/a “Celer Offer,” Celeri Network, Inc., Celeri Treasury LLC, Wynston York LLC, and Neo Bellum Industries Inc.”
Representing also that he had more than 200 employees when he never had more than 14, he successfully secured $2.8M in PPP funding altogether.
“Cheng transferred over $1 million abroad, withdrew approximately $360,000 in cash and/or cashier’s checks, and spent at least approximately $279,000 in PPP loan proceeds on personal expenses,” the DOJ found. “These personal expenses included the purchase of an 18-carat gold Rolex watch for approximately $40,000, rent and move-in fees for a $17,000 per month luxury condominium used by CHENG, approximately $50,000 of furnishings for the condominium, a portion of the purchase of a 2020 S560X4 Mercedes, and purchases totaling approximately $37,000 at Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, and Yves Saint Laurent.”
Far from finished, Cheng also announced the launch of a blockchain-based peer-to-peer lending platform and sold more than $400,000 in digital tokens through “materially false and misleading statements and omissions.”
“Cheng, 25 of New York, New York, pled guilty on April 20, 2021, to one count of major fraud against the United States, one count of bank fraud, one count of securities fraud, and one count of wire fraud,” the DOJ said.
Miami, FL: Greenbox Capital® announced it is serving as a Small Entity Representative (SER) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that is responsible for amending the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) protecting women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses looking for financial assistance. Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act amends the ECOA by requiring certain data be collected and submitted to the Bureau to protect these types of businesses.
“It’s an honor to be selected to the industry panel providing feedback on section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act ensuring fair lending laws to women- and minority-owned businesses”, said Greenbox Capital CEO Jordan Fein. “Over 2 million businesses across the U.S. are either women or minority owned and it’s vital they can secure funding as easily as non-minority owned businesses.”
Greenbox Capital, an alternative lender, serves small businesses in all industries across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada with the working capital needed to grow. Greenbox Capital is committed to supporting clear, secure, and fair financing solutions and is an active member of the Small Business Financial Association (SBFA).
For more information visit, www.greenboxcapital.com.
While the US economy slowly opens back up to careful in-person commerce, the territory of Puerto Rico is still facing rising case numbers- So how is business in the “Island of Enchantment?”
“I don’t think there’s anything that will shake the confidence of our small business owners in Puerto Rico,” said Sonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial. “Businesses and the people of Puerto Rico are the most resilient I have ever known: I know that as I am one of them.”
Alvelo, a native to the island, has won awards as a top entrepreneur of the year for her business financing partnerships in the US and Puerto Rico. She said that even as the island faces its hardest challenges, the spirit of entrepreneurship remains unbroken.
Puerto Rico has been hit by irregular misfortune in the past couple of years. Destruction from Hurricane Maria and Irma damaged the 2017 infrastructure of the island immeasurably, and the response of the US government was painfully lacking. Commerce continued with caution, seeming to rebound. Then this year, earthquakes and aftershocks punctuated January and February, foreboding the coming storm.
The pandemic was slow to reach the island; Puerto Rico was the first US state/territory to impose a quarantine, banning business and all travel March 15th. The region is a territory of the United States, so it could not directly enforce control over its borders. Recently, Puerto Rico made the news with an increasing case count.
There’s also been the troublesome search for a new governor. After a mass protest, Governor Ricardo Rosselló stepped down last year. After his successor ‘appointment’ was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme court of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez, the former Secretary of Justice, took office.
In the August primary, thousands of ballots got stuck in delivery trucks that did not move, never reached polling locations. The candidates are now petitioning for a re-vote and the counting of the votes that were cast. The courts are still deciding, so even the election is facing challenges in Puerto Rico.
Besides that, the tourism industry has been devastated. Though the early shut down saved lives, the island saw an unemployment rate of up to 23% in July alone. That could be a low estimate, considering that half of the Puerto Rican workforce hold a job in the “informal economy.” The New York Times reports that the real unemployment rate in the middle of the summer could have reached close to 40%.
Even so, Alvelo conveyed the enduring willpower of the Puerto Rican people, that there was still confidence things would turn around.
Alvelo is partnered with more than 97 pharmacies in Puerto Rico as an MCA provider, as well as with gas stations and other small businesses. She said that she has been receiving calls for business financing options non-stop, on a day-to-day basis. Alvelo shared information she learned from one of her clients.
“They suffered the most at the beginning, but you know only 5-10% of pharmacies in the islands are open,” Alvelo said. “But even still, and we’re talking a hurricane, earthquakes, a pandemic, everything- I still don’t think that anything will change the confidence of business owners in PR.”
Alvelo is standing right next to Puerto Rican business owners, talking to them through their increasing needs during this time, she said. Latin Financial facilitated almost $2 million in PPP loans and $2 million in EIDL loans in the US and PR.
“That was the best experience- when they got the PPP funds,” Alvelo said. “They were crying over the phone; it was incredible.”
Brendan Lynch, Alvelo’s fiancé and business partner, said that the program had a rough rollout. It was unclear how long the Fed money would last, but PPP ended up working well for Puerto Rican businesses. He even saw BlueVine begin funding Loans in PR for the first time.
“One of our finders here in the US was approved for the program, and we were able to use their online platform,” Lynch said. “And normally they don’t really fund in Puerto Rico, but they did allow Puerto Rican businesses to apply for funding; which is great because they had the technology to make it so simple and quick.”
Lynch said Latin Financial was sure to share links to a PPP loan application with every client to make sure aid funds were as accessible as possible.
“Businesses are probably still down-scaled somewhere between 60 to 70% of their total revenue,” Lynch said. “they’re still working shorthanded with less people in the office, and regulations on how many people you can have in your business are making it harder.”
Alvelo and Lynch are no strangers to environmental forces affecting their plans- the pair were planning on getting married in PR in 2017 before the hurricanes hit.
“We started actually looking [for a venue] again, and then COVID happened,” Alvelo said. “Clients were going to be invited and are always asking how they can help, just like when everything happened with COVID, the pharmacies all got together, and said if you need this let us know. Businesses are really working together because they know that they need each other.”
Maria Barzana, the owner of Farmacia Asturias, has been a longtime client of Latin Financial, one of the first dating back to 2015. Barzana went to Alvelo for help. She said the island did not feel an economic impact until this August. Businesses, including most medical offices in the country, have been closed for the past five months. Pharmacies are finally feeling it.
“At the beginning of COVID-19, we were able to manage the economic factor by invoicing refills of prescriptions and the sale of basic necessities related to COVID,” Barzana said. “Due to social distancing, the flow of clients/patients has decreased, concentrating on items necessary to combat COVID-19 and maintenance medications.”
Latin Financial is almost back to regular funding after rushing to help complete PPP and EIDL stimulus loans. Sonia Alvelo will be a panelist speaker this Sept. 24, for the annual Latinas & Power Symposium.
Par Funding’s attorneys at Fox Rothschild filed a strong response with the Court over the apparent actions taken by the Receiver to lock out its employees and suspend ACH debits, the docket shows.
“On the afternoon of July 28, the SEC advised that Mr. Stumphauzer (the appointed receiver) would cause the immediate dismissal of all the employees of the businesses and that no employees of the business would be permitted to enter the premises – leading to over 100 employees being barred from the business premises for the last week despite the fact that thousands of merchants around the country rely on ongoing communication with CBSG to ensure the ongoing viability of their business operations.”
“To date, not a dollar has been taken in by the Receiver to pay investors, and they have not been paid. The Receiver’s and SEC’s actions are ruining a business with excellent fundamentals and a strong financial base and essentially putting it into an ineffective liquidation causing huge financial losses. In taking this course of action against a fully operational business, the key fact that has been lost by the SEC, is that their actions are going to unilaterally lead to massive investor defaults.”
Par’s attorneys are expected to file a more comprehensive opposition by the end of the week.
deBanked did not reach out to any party for comment given the unlikelihood that any would be shared on pending litigation.