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Recover Your Losses in the John J. Woods & Horizon Private Equity, III Ponzi Scheme

The Wolper Law Firm is currently investigating claims arising out of the $110 million Ponzi scheme orchestrated by John J. Woods and his investment advisory firm, Livingston Group Asset Management d/b/a Southport Capital.  The specific fund sold to investors is known as the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC.  If you are one of the impacted investors, please contact the Wolper Law Firm at 800.931.8452.  We are pursuing arbitration claims against Oppenheimer & Co., who held the securities registration for John Woods during the relevant time period and had a legal obligation to supervise his unlawful activities, which led to investor losses.

John J. Woods has been in the financial services industry since 1989.  He started his career with Lehman Brothers.  In 2003, he began working as a Financial Advisor at Oppenheimer & Co., Inc., where he remained until 2016.  It is believed that John J. Woods began operating the Horizon Private Equity Ponzi scheme while at Oppenheimer and eventually caused clients to transfer their assets to Southport with the promise of high investment returns.

On August 20, 20201, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a Complaint against John Woods, Livingston Group Asset Management Company d/b/a Southport Capital, and Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC.  The Complaint was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.  A copy of the Complaint can be accessed by clicking here.

According to the SEC Complaint, “John Woods has been running a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade. As of the end of July 2021, investors in the Ponzi scheme were owed over $110,000,000 in principal.  There are more than 400 investors, residing in at least 20 different states, who currently hold investments in the Ponzi scheme, which goes by the name Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC (“Horizon”). Many of the victims are elderly retirees who were preyed upon by investment advisers at Livingston Group Asset Management Company d/b/a Southport Capital (“Southport”), a registered investment adviser firm owned and controlled by Woods. The Defendants’ Ponzi scheme is ongoing and continues to raise money from new investors each month.”

The scheme was complex and intricate.  John J. Woods and a network of Investment Adviser Representatives promised investors of the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC returns of 6-7% for a period of 2-3 years and the ability to get their principal returned to them without penalties. Investors were told their funds would be used in a fund that could include government bonds, stocks, and real estate.  This was a ruse.  They were not told their money would be used to deliver those high returns to those who invested before them, as alleged by the SEC. Without the continued influx of cash from new investors, Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC would not have been able to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to existing investors, a cycle that is alleged to be ongoing, even today.

According to the SEC, Woods is the president of Southport as well as the majority owner and has full control over Horizon, which has no employees of its own. Investors are brought to Horizon through Southport.  It is alleged that several Investment Advisor Representatives at Southport sold Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, including Michael Mooney, John Woods, Jim Woods and Arthur Brown.

What makes this Ponzi scheme unique is that John J. Woods and his cohorts, Michael Mooney, John Woods, Jim Woods and Arthur Brown, were former Financial Advisors of Oppenheimer & Co., in its Atlanta branch office.  During the time period that they were employed and registered with Oppenheimer, John Woods began soliciting clients to invest in the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC under the guise that the investment was being offered by Oppenheimer.  Investors were lulled into a false sense of security that Oppenheimer conducted due diligence regarding the investment and ensured the protection of principal.  Of course, Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC was not offered and sold by Oppenheimer.  As time went on, John Woods and his cohorts left Oppenheimer and opened Livingston Group Asset Management d/b/a Southport Capital and solicited his Oppenheimer customers to follow him.

This unlawful practice is known as “selling away,” which occurs when a registered Financial Advisor sells securities products to customers that are neither offered nor approved by his or her brokerage firm.  FINRA Rule 3280 specifically prohibits Financial Advisors, such as John Woods, from selling products like the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC to customers even if they are not actual customers of Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer has an affirmative duty to supervise the sales practice activities of its registered representatives.  Here, Oppenheimer failed to supervise John Woods, Michael Mooney, Jim Woods and Arthur Brown.  John Woods and his cohorts purportedly operated a separate branch office of Southport Capital in the same building as Oppenheimer and met with clients in plain sight.  Customers of Oppenheimer transferred millions of dollars from Oppenheimer accounts to Horizon Private Equity Fund, III, LLC, which had to be approved by Oppenheimer management.  In other words, the red flags were present and Oppenheimer either turned a blind eye or was reckless in its supervisory responsibilities.  Either way, the law may hold Oppenheimer responsible for the unlawful activities of John Woods, Michael Mooney Jim Woods and Arthur Brown.

If you or those you care about may have invested in Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, it is critically important to take action now in order to preserve your right to recovery.  The Wolper Law Firm represents investors nationwide in securities litigation and arbitration on a contingency fee basis.  Matt Wolper, the Managing Principal of the Wolper Law Firm, is a trial lawyer who has handled hundreds of securities cases during his career involving a wide range of products, strategies and securities.  Prior to representing investors, he was a partner with a national law firm, where he represented some of the largest banks and brokerage firms in the world in securities matters.  We can be reached at 800.931.8452 or by email at mwolper@wolperlawfirm.com.

The Wolper Law Firm is currently investigating claims arising out of the $110 million Ponzi scheme orchestrated by John J. Woods and his investment advisory firm, Livingston Group Asset Management d/b/a Southport Capital.  The specific fund sold to investors is known as the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC.  If you are one of the impacted investors, please contact the Wolper Law Firm at 800.931.8452.  We are pursuing arbitration claims against Oppenheimer & Co., who held the securities registration for John Woods during the relevant time period and had a legal obligation to supervise his unlawful activities, which led to investor losses.

John J. Woods has been in the financial services industry since 1989.  He started his career with Lehman Brothers.  In 2003, he began working as a Financial Advisor at Oppenheimer & Co., Inc., where he remained until 2016.  It is believed that John J. Woods began operating the Horizon Private Equity Ponzi scheme while at Oppenheimer and eventually caused clients to transfer their assets to Southport with the promise of high investment returns.

On August 20, 20201, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a Complaint against John Woods, Livingston Group Asset Management Company d/b/a Southport Capital, and Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC.  The Complaint was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.  A copy of the Complaint can be accessed by clicking here.

According to the SEC Complaint, “John Woods has been running a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade. As of the end of July 2021, investors in the Ponzi scheme were owed over $110,000,000 in principal.  There are more than 400 investors, residing in at least 20 different states, who currently hold investments in the Ponzi scheme, which goes by the name Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC (“Horizon”). Many of the victims are elderly retirees who were preyed upon by investment advisers at Livingston Group Asset Management Company d/b/a Southport Capital (“Southport”), a registered investment adviser firm owned and controlled by Woods. The Defendants’ Ponzi scheme is ongoing and continues to raise money from new investors each month.”

The scheme was complex and intricate.  John J. Woods and a network of Investment Adviser Representatives promised investors of the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC returns of 6-7% for a period of 2-3 years and the ability to get their principal returned to them without penalties. Investors were told their funds would be used in a fund that could include government bonds, stocks, and real estate.  This was a ruse.  They were not told their money would be used to deliver those high returns to those who invested before them, as alleged by the SEC. Without the continued influx of cash from new investors, Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC would not have been able to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to existing investors, a cycle that is alleged to be ongoing, even today.

According to the SEC, Woods is the president of Southport as well as the majority owner and has full control over Horizon, which has no employees of its own. Investors are brought to Horizon through Southport.  It is alleged that several Investment Advisor Representatives at Southport sold Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, including Michael Mooney, John Woods, Jim Woods and Arthur Brown.

What makes this Ponzi scheme unique is that John Woods and his cohorts, Michael Mooney, John Woods, Jim Woods and Arthur Brown, were former Financial Advisors of Oppenheimer & Co., in its Atlanta branch office.  During the time period that they were employed and registered with Oppenheimer, John Woods began soliciting clients to invest in the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC under the guise that the investment was being offered by Oppenheimer.  Investors were lulled into a false sense of security that Oppenheimer conducted due diligence regarding the investment and ensured the protection of principal.  Of course, Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC was not offered and sold by Oppenheimer.  As time went on, John Woods and his cohorts left Oppenheimer and opened Livingston Group Asset Management d/b/a Southport Capital and solicited his Oppenheimer customers to follow him.

This unlawful practice is known as “selling away,” which occurs when a registered Financial Advisor sells securities products to customers that are neither offered nor approved by his or her brokerage firm.  FINRA Rule 3280 specifically prohibiots Financial Advisors, such as John Woods, from selling products like the Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC to customers even if they are not actual customers of Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer has an affirmative duty to supervise the sales practice activities of its registered representatives.  Here, Oppenheimer failed to supervise John Woods, Michael Mooney, Jim Woods and Arthur Brown.  John Woods and his cohorts purportedly operated a separate branch office of Southport Capital in the same building as Oppenheimer and met with clients in plain sight.  Customers of Oppenheimer transferred millions of dollars from Oppenheimer accounts to Horizon Private Equity Fund, III, LLC, which had to be approved by Oppenheimer management.  In other words, the red flags were present and Oppenheimer either turned a blind eye or was reckless in its supervisory responsibilities.  Either way, the law may hold Oppenheimer responsible for the unlawful activities of John Woods, Michael Mooney Jim Woods and Arthur Brown.

If you or those you care about may have invested in Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, it is critically important to take action now in order to preserve your right to recovery.  The Wolper Law Firm represents investors nationwide in securities litigation and arbitration on a contingency fee basis.  Matt Wolper, the Managing Principal of the Wolper Law Firm, is a trial lawyer who has handled hundreds of securities cases during his career involving a wide range of products, strategies and securities.  Prior to representing investors, he was a partner with a national law firm, where he represented some of the largest banks and brokerage firms in the world in securities matters.  We can be reached at 800.931.8452 or by email at mwolper@wolperlawfirm.com.

Now is the time to talk to an investment loss recovery lawyer. We can help recover your investment loss. Free consultations, always.
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