– Attorney General Peter C. Harvey
has obtained a court order to freeze more
than $1.4 million in funds that have been
linked to an Internet securities scam
involving a fictitious company, Heritage
Financial Inc., through which investors
around the world have been defrauded of
millions of dollars.
Court Judge Donald J. Volkert Jr. of the
Chancery Division, Essex County, granted
the Attorney General’s request for
an order freezing the funds, which are
contained in four Merrill Lynch accounts
held in the names of various individuals
and corporate entities.
Investigators in the New Jersey Bureau
of Securities traced funds that victims,
at the direction of the con artists, had
wired to designated accounts. The investigation
revealed that the funds frozen today had
been transferred through various accounts
at U.S. and offshore banks into the Merrill
Attorney General Harvey’s request,
Judge Volkert also ordered that the named
holders of the Merrill Lynch accounts
appear in court for a hearing before Judge
Kenneth S. Levy on November 30, 2005.
At that hearing, the Judge will decide
whether to require those parties to disclose
the source of all funds contained in 13
Merrill Lynch accounts held in their names
and whether to permanently freeze those
funds, which total more than $70 million.
Attorney General’s Office and the
Bureau of Securities previously seized
approximately $620,000 in funds in accounts
in Panama and the Cayman Islands.
con artists have hidden behind the Internet
and stashed their stolen money in an elaborate
network of accounts, but we are on their
trail,” said Attorney General Harvey.
“We will continue to work to apprehend
those responsible and secure restitution
investigators and lawyers are working
diligently to identify and recover funds
lost by innocent investors,” said
Franklin L. Widmann, Chief of the New
Jersey Bureau of Securities. “We
urge people to call the Bureau of Securities
if they have any information about this
Attorneys General Anna Lascurain and Megan
Harris are handling the case for the Attorney
General. It is being investigated for
the Bureau of Securities by Investigators
William Hoefling and Adam J. Heck.
holding low-performing stocks were targeted
with cold calls and offered prices for
their shares far exceeding market value.
They were told that to complete the sale,
they must pay an up-front fee, which the
con artist usually called a “fully
refundable penalty restriction bond,”
represented as being for the purpose of
protecting investors from fraud. The victims
were asked to wire the money to certain
fraudulent scheme has been conducted entirely
through the Internet, with no legitimate
physical address given for Heritage Financial
Inc. or its officers and employees. The
company has used more than 30 Web sites
established with Internet service providers.
The Web sites have claimed the company
is based at 103 Franklin Corner Road,
Trenton, N.J. There is no building at
people questioned the legitimacy of Heritage
Financial Inc. or the purchase offer,
they were directed to telephone one of
several regulatory agencies that the con
artists fabricated and falsely portrayed
as legitimate on Internet sites, including
the International Exchange Regulatory
Commission, the International Securities
Department, the Regulatory Compliance
Commission, the Securities Protection
Agency and the International Registry
fact, all of the phone numbers provided
by the defendants were linked to the same
computer or network of computers through
an Internet service that allows personal
computers to serve as telephones. The
defendants had an account with an Edison-based
telecommunications company that allowed
them to establish dozens of computer-linked
telephone numbers, including numbers with
out-of-state area codes.
Bureau of Securities is continuing its
investigation to recover investor funds
and track down the perpetrators who opened
the bank and telecommunications accounts.
can telephone the Bureau of Securities
at 973-504-3600, or call
toll-free from within New Jersey at 1-866-838-6240.
They also can reach the Bureau through
its Web site www.NJConsumerAffairs.com/bos.htm.