A missing financial adviser based in Atlanta raised a total of $10 million from clients and accelerated his purported fraudulent scheme in the days before disappearing near the end of September, according to a complaint filed last Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The adviser, Christopher W. Burns, 37, was charged with one count of mail fraud in October by the FBI. According to the new complaint by the SEC, Burns and his related businesses sold $10 million of promissory notes from February 2017 to this September, promised rates of interest as high as 20%, and “became even more brazen” as he increased the sale of the notes, according to the SEC.
From September 15 to September 23, the day before he disappeared, Burns raised $320,000 and withdrew all but $75 of that money to his personal bank accounts, according to the SEC. At the time of his disappearance, Burns understood that he was under investigation by the SEC, according to the complaint.
His clients were dozens of investors in the Southeast, according to the complaint, and he pitched customers that their money would be used as part of a peer-to-peer, business lending program and that the investments were safe and had little to no risk.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that the lending program was a “sham,” and that Burns “spent the money he raised to fund his lifestyle.” That included a million-dollar lake house, a boat and cars, as well as business expenses and payments to earlier investors, according to the regulator.
Burns also used investor money to “elevate his status as an investment adviser by purchasing tens of thousands of dollars of airtime for his local radio show,” according to the SEC’s complaint.
Burns could not be reached for comment.
He did business under the firm name of Dynamic Money. The SEC’s complaint charges Burns with five counts of fraud and is seeking his wife, Meredith Burns, to pay back some of the assets that were allegedly bought with investor money.
“It bears repeating that Meredith Burns played no part in the operations of the companies and the government has therefore not made any such allegations, which is why Meredith has been listed as a relief defendant and not an actual defendant in the SEC complaint,” wrote Kristen Novay, Meredith Burns’ attorney, in an email. “She continues to cooperate fully and consistently with all law enforcement authorities.”
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