The Missouri secretary of state's Securities Division has ordered a Jefferson City man and his company to "cease and desist" after offering securities under a prohibited contract.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's news release identified the man as Jeffrey Wayne Robnett, who had not registered as an agent as required by state law.
The release said Robnett met a Texas resident, 51, online in August 2017, and carried on a phone and messaging relationship for several months.
During that time, the Securities Division reported, Robnett claimed to be a very successful foreign currency trader — and convinced the Texas man to take $50,000 from a college savings account and invest it with Robnett through an offshore trading platform.
The Securities Division said Robnett then visited the investor in Texas, and they set up a corporation in Belize in order to open a trading account with the offshore platform.
The state also said Robnett persuaded the Texas investor to sign a management agreement, giving power of attorney to Robnett's company, Classified Investments Inc., then used the agreement to trade on behalf of the investor.
The account was set up Oct. 31, 2017, Ashcroft's office reported, and by Jan. 6, 2018, the account was valued at approximately $4,874.
During that period, Robnett received commissions and fees from the investor's account of $7,128 — despite incurring substantial losses — and refused to answer questions from the investor about the account.
"Be cautious investing your money with individuals who approach you online," Securities Commissioner David M. Minnick said in the news release. "Through social media and other websites, untrustworthy individuals seek to gain your trust by offering large profits. They may be operating in Missouri, in another state or overseas — more often than not, they're trying to scam you. If you have any doubts, contact our office first."
The division also ordered Robnett and Classified Investments Inc. to show cause why they should not be ordered to pay restitution to the Texas man, plus civil penalties and costs of at least $60,000.
In the news release, Ashcroft urged all investors to know the risks of investing.
People with any questions about an investment opportunity — or who wish to check the background and registration status of a financial adviser — the state offers a toll-free investor protection hotline at 800-721-7996.
Consumers can also visit missouriprotectsinvestors.com to file a complaint.