4.7.2009 The SEC brought charges against Shawn R. Merriman of Aurora, Colorado, and his firm, Market Street Advisors, for conducting a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme through the sale of interests in at least four investment funds. The SEC also charged the funds that issued the securities. The SEC alleges that Merriman raised at least $17 to $20 million from at least 38 investors residing in such states as Colorado, Minnesota and Utah.

According to the SEC, Merriman told investors that he would invest their funds in stocks and options, and he reported impressive and consistent annual returns to investors. Merriman repeatedly deceived investors, many of whom considered him a personal friend, by sending them fictitious account statements showing annual rates of return of 7% to 20%. Instead, Merriman did not trade stocks and options after his first year of operations, during which he suffered trading losses, and he used millions of dollars in investor funds to support his lavish lifestyle and pay out withdrawals by other investors. He also offered "rebates" to existing investors to entice them to invest additional money with him. Contrary to his representations to investors, the SEC alleges that Merriman used investor funds to repay other investors and for his own personal purchases of classic cars, motorcycles, motor homes, a cabin in Idaho, and fine art collections, including works by Rembrandt that are worth millions of dollars.

Click http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/2009/lr20992.htm to access the administrative action.