Attention Victims of Horizon Private Equity Ponzi Scheme and Former Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. Broker John Woods

Horizon Private Equity Ponzi Scheme

Were you the victim of the ​​Horizon Private Equity Ponzi Scheme and former Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. Broker John Woods (CRD# 1949233)? Erez Law is currently investigating Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. for its role in enabling a massive $110 million Ponzi scheme “Horizon Private Equity,” which was orchestrated by a Georgia resident and former Oppenheimer registered representative John Woods. It is alleged that more than 400 investors in 20 states have been victims of the Ponzi Scheme, which is said to be ongoing and still continuing to raise money from new investors each month. If you were a customer of Oppenheimer & Co.. Inc. and invested in Horizon Private Equity we are interested in speaking with you confidentially.

Timeline of the Horizon Private Equity Ponzi Scheme

Previously, John Woods was registered with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia from 2003 to 2016. Southport Capital is an investment adviser firm that Woods was the President and majority owner of until he was terminated in August 2021 regarding, “Mr. Mooney is being investigated for an alleged Ponzi scheme.”

In August 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency action to stop a Ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated by John Woods and the two entities he controls: registered investment adviser Livingston Group Asset Management Company, d/b/a Southport Capital (Southport), and investment fund Horizon Private Equity, III LLC (Horizon). The SEC’s complaint charges Woods and his companies with violating the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws. According to the announcement, the complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, civil penalties, an asset freeze, and the appointment of a receiver.

In August 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened an investigation into John Woods for an alleged Ponzi scheme that has been in operation for more than a decade. According to John Woods’ BrokerCheck, “Many of the victims are elderly retirees who were preyed upon by investment advisers at Southport, a registered investment adviser firm owned and controlled by Woods… Woods and his cohorts at Southport generally told investors that Horizon would earn a return by investing their money in, for example, government bonds, stocks, or small real estate projects; investors were not told that their money would or could be used to pay returns to earlier investors. But that is exactly what the Defendants did, they were only able to pay the guaranteed returns to existing investors by raising and using new investor money. Horizon has not earned any significant profits from legitimate investments; instead a very large percentage of purported “returns” to earlier investors were simply paid out of new investor money. The assets owned by Woods and the entities under his control, including Southport and Horizon, are worth far too little for there to be any realistic prospect that the Ponzi scheme will be able to pay back existing investors their principal, let alone the promised returns. Because the scheme has been going on for so long, and because Woods, Southport, and Horizon did not use any of the typical recordkeeping practices one would expect from a legitimate investment fund, millions of dollars’ worth of investor funds are currently unaccounted for.”

How did the scheme work? Who did it target?

The scheme was orchestrated through John Woods’ firm Southport Capital between 2008 and 2016. It is alleged that elderly investors were targeted for this scheme. According to online records, Horizon Private Equity does not have offices or employees; all activities have been conducted by Woods and the employees of Southport.

Additionally, it is alleged that John Woods and other investment adviser representatives at Southport Capital, including John Woods’ brother Jim Woods, told clients that they would receive returns of 6-7% interest, guaranteed for two to three years, for investments in “Horizon Private Equity.”

According to the SEC, “Woods, Southport, and other Southport investment adviser representatives allegedly told investors – including many elderly retirees – that their Horizon investments were safe, would be used for different investment activities, would pay a fixed rate of return, and that investors could get their principal back without penalty after a short waiting period. According to the complaint, however, these statements were false and misleading: Horizon did not earn any significant profits from legitimate investments, and a very large percentage of purported “returns” to earlier investors were simply paid out of new investor money. The complaint also alleges that Woods repeatedly lied to the SEC during regulatory examinations of Southport.”

According to public records, investors were not told that their investment would be used to pay returns to earlier investors in a Ponzi-like manner.

John Woods Customer Complaints

John Woods has been the subject of six customer complaints between 2008 and 2021, according to his CRD report:

November 2021. “Clients’ attorney alleges misconduct, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. No time period specified, but subject accounts opened during 2012 and fa left firm during 2016.” The customer is seeking $1,500,000 in damages and the case is currently pending.

September 2021. “Purported class action lawsuit brought on behalf of all persons or entities who invested in Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC from 2008through the present that are not subject to mandatory arbitration. The Complaint alleges causes of action against Oppenheimer for violations of the Georgia RICO statute, procurement of breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, and aiding and abetting fraud. Plaintiffs claim that Oppenheimer failed to supervise three employees who engaged in an alleged fraudulent scheme while employed at Oppenheimer and continued after their employment ceased. From 2008 – 8/20/21.”

September 2021. “Former FA’s John Woods, James Woods and Michael Mooney allegedly conducted a Ponzi Scheme from 2007 until December 2016. Time period – 2009-2016.” The customer is seeking $1,800,000 in damages.

September 2021. “Former FAS, John Woods, James Woods and Michael Mooney, allegedly conducted a Ponzi scheme from 2007 until December 2016. From 2/1/2014 – 6/30/2016.” The customer is seeking $1,400,000 in damages.

August 2021. “Former FAS, John Woods, James Woods and Michael Mooney, allegedly conducted a Ponzi scheme from 2007 until December 2016. From 2/1/2014 – 6/30/2016.” The customer is seeking $170,000 in damages.

It is alleged that the following brokers who were registered with Southport Capital who recommended Horizon Private Equity:

  • Michael Mooney
  • John Wood
  • Jim Woods
  • Arthur Brown

Pursuant to FINRA Rules, member firms are responsible for supervising a broker’s activities during the time the broker is registered with the firm. Therefore, Southport Capital may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Woods’ customers.

Are you a victim? Contact a Lawyer for the Horizon Private Equity Ponzi Scheme

Erez Law represents investors in the United States for claims against brokers and brokerage firms for wrongdoing. If you have experienced investment losses, please call us at 888-840-1571 or complete our contact form for a free consultation. Erez Law is a nationally recognized law firm representing individuals, trusts, corporations and institutions in claims against brokerage firms, banks and insurance companies on a contingency fee basis.