The former owner of Playgirl magazine has been charged with fraudulently raising $287 million for a cash-advance business that actually served as a source of cash for his other companies and his own lavish lifestyle.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Carl Ruderman perpetrated a four-year-long securities offering fraud involving 1 Global Capital that victimized more than 3,400 retail investors, many of whom used their retirement savings to invest in the company.
Investors were promised profits from 1 Global’s loans to small and medium-sized businesses, the SEC said in a civil complaint, but in reality, the company “used a substantial amount of investors’ funds for purposes other than making [merchant cash advances].”
Ruderman allegedly diverted $28 million to fund personal expenses such as a luxury vacation to Greece and monthly payments for his Mercedes as well as several companies in which he or his family members had a direct interest.
By June 30, 2018, 1 Global’s financial records showed approximately $50 million in missing investor funds, the SEC said. The company filed bankruptcy last month.
“We allege that 1 Global’s business model was a sham because instead of using investor funds as promised, 1 Global and Ruderman diverted significant funds, including to Ruderman himself for his personal benefit,” Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, said in a news release.
Ruderman founded 1 Global in 2013, funding the business almost entirely with money from investors who were recruited by a sales network that allegedly included barred brokers.
Through April 2018, 1 Global and sister company 1 West Capital made about $348 million in loans. But according to the SEC, marketing materials misrepresented the quality of the loans and investors were given account statements that falsely represented their portfolio balances, rates of return, and the amount of their cash 1 Global had in the bank to fund loans.
Ruderman’s other companies include Digi South, which was used to own Playgirl and other adult magazines. The SEC said it received approximately $805,000 in investor funds from 1 Global “for no consideration or legitimate services.”