On March 20, 2020, the district court unsealed the file in a case that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought against three individuals accused of bilking investors inside and outside the U.S. The case was initially filed under seal because the Commission sought, and obtained, an asset freeze and other emergency relief to halt an ongoing securities fraud (as claimed by the Commission).
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Florida residents Robert Dunlap and Nicole Bowdler worked with former Washington state senator David Schmidt to market and sell a purported digital asset called the “Meta 1 Coin” in an unregistered securities offering conducted through the Meta 1 Coin Trust. The complaint alleges that the defendants made numerous false and misleading statements to potential and actual investors, including claims that the Meta 1 Coin was backed by a $1 billion art collection or $2 billion of gold, and that an accounting firm was auditing the gold assets. The defendants also allegedly told investors that the Meta 1 Coin was risk-free, would never lose value and could return up to 224,923%. According to the complaint, the defendants never distributed the Meta 1 Coins and instead used investor funds to pay personal expenses and funnel proceeds to two others, Pramana Capital Inc. and Peter K. Shamoun. The complaint alleges that some of the investor funds were used to buy luxury automobiles, including a $215,000 Ferrari. In all, the complaint alleges the defendants raised more than $4.3 million from more than 150 investors in and outside the U.S.