Like many of us, Bruce J. Fixelle attended a local networking event, joined the group and developed a few lasting relationships with members.  Fixelle befriended two members for over a decade. Unfortunately, his friends discovered they didn’t know Bruce at all. When the SEC brought charges against Fixelle, a New Jersey, and two Delaware corporations, Aurora Capital Management and Genesis Advisory Services, it was more than $1.3 million too late.  At the time of this article, Fixelle has not been convicted.

“’Fraud often occurs where investors least expect it—with close friends, family members, and in trust-based communities,’” said Marc P. Berger, Regional Director of the SEC’s New York Office.” SEC Press Release. Once we get to know someone, we let our guard down. The person shares a few meals, some charming stories, an occasional personal detail, attends a few charity events with us, and we are fast friends. It’s a little more work than Facebook Friends, but what do we really know about these acquaintances? Often times commercial lawsuits are between former friends.

Fixelle and Investor A had a 14 year relationship. During that time Investor A invested $274,000 with Fixelle.  Supposedly Fixelle basically day traded initial and secondary securities offerings. Fixelle “…provided Investor A’s accountant with a written summary of his investment strategy (consistent with his oral representations), together with a ‘Private Placement Memorandum & Subscription Agreement,’…” SEC Complaint.   He touted a 10% return, and allegedly falsified periodic earnings statements.  Months after Investor A asked to liquidate some of his position, Fixelle admitted Investor A’s money was gone. Fixelle used the money for personal expenses for himself and his son, to pay off credit cards, to pay part of a judgment, and to pay office rent and condominium dues.

Investor B knew Fixelle for 15 years, having met through a local organization. Of the $2.8 million Investor B invested, Fixelle had returned $1.9 million. Five months after Investor B asked to liquidate some of the account, Fixelle told him the money was no longer available. Fixelle had not invested the money. Instead he made payments on credit cards, personal loans and mortgages.

To add insult to injury, in 2014 the SEC secured a $1.5 million judgment against Fixelle “for prior violations of federal securities laws.” SEC Complaint.

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