Posted June 18th, 2019.
Suit Alleges Fraud Against an Investor
SAN DIEGO, June 18, 2019 –Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP filed an amended complaint today in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego alleging the principals of a San Diego-based venture capital operation VentureMoney Management Co. defrauded an investor out of her life savings.
The amended complaint alleges Mark Bernier trolled a dating website, exchanging over 29,000 messages with over 3,000 women in a two-year period, to lure unsuspecting women into investing their money in his fraudulent scheme. The amended complaint alleges Bernier and his venture capital fund, VentureMoney Management Co., induced the plaintiff to purchase $600,000 of unregistered, non-exempt securities by falsely representing his investment credentials, falsely promising to return the money at any time to induce the sales and refusing to show any of the investment terms and conditions embedded in the transactional documents to keep the plaintiff in the dark.
Plaintiff Marieme Bouguerba filed the case individually to recover the $600,000 she entrusted to Mark Bernier. Named as defendants are Mark Bernier, and Paul Turino, Alan Maiss, James Jalil, John Zoraian, Greg Zoraian, Greg Doyle, Paul Roben, Roger Rappoport, Nishal Mohan, Mario Diez, each of whom are directors or officers of entities Bernier owns or controls.
David Sanford, Chairman at Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP, noted, “The standards in California for raising capital from investors are strict and exacting. All the defendants should be held to the highest standard.”
The amended complaint describes how Bernier solicited the plaintiff on MillionaireMatch.com and then immediately targeted her money before ever meeting her in person, eventually inducing her to invest $600,000 in companies with which he and the other defendants were affiliated. The amended complaint further alleges that the operation’s officers and directors lent credibility to Bernier’s scheme by permitting him to exploit their names, faces and investment expertise in marketing materials and pitch books, which contained materially false and misleading information. The amended complaint further adds that Bernier simply pocketed the plaintiff’s money, leaving plaintiff holding nothing but “blue sky.”
Charles Field, a partner at Sanford Heisler and counsel for the plaintiff, added, “We look forward to learning more about the manner in which the defendants raise capital from investors and determining how the capital is allocated among the various persons and entities.”
As relief, the plaintiff seeks the return of her money, interest, costs, and attorneys’ fees.
About Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C, Nashville, Baltimore, San Francisco, and San Diego. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation’s top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating and trying cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.
The Firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with claims of employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, consumer fraud, and whistleblowing, among other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the Firm also represents individuals and has achieved extraordinary success in the representation of executives and attorneys in employment disputes.
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