Colorado Securities Officials Allege Casper, Denver-Area Men Engaged In Fraud; Casper Woman, Glenrock Brothers Lost Money
A Casper man and his Denver-area business partner have been ordered to stop selling bogus securities that have defrauded more than $11 million from scores of investors -- including three in central Wyoming -- and sometimes lined their own pockets, according to the Colorado Division of Securities.
Denver District Court Judge Karen Brody on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Craig Kahler of Casper and Kelly Schnorenberg and his KJS Marketing Inc. -- operating out of Lonetree, Colo. -- from offering financial products in Colorado.
Kahler could not be reached for comment.
The injunction does not apply to selling these securities in Wyoming, Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler said.
The Secretary of State, which oversees the securities in Wyoming, only recently learned of the case and it is investigating possible victims and whether Kahler violated any Wyoming laws, Wheeler said.
In central Wyoming, there are at least three people who claim Schnorenberg and KJS duped them.
In April, two Glenrock brothers who had invested $100,000 each in 2011 won a judgment in Converse County District Court against Schnorenberg and KJS Marketing for breach of contract and fraud. They won the judgment to recover the principal of their investments, plus 12 percent interest.
However, court records do not indicate if they have received restitution from Schnorenberg and KJS.
On Monday, a woman filed a report with the Natrona County Sheriff's Office saying she invested an undisclosed amount of money with KJS in 2011, but she never received any return on her investments.
The Sheriff's Office incident report stated she is listed as a victim in a federal case against Schnorenberg, and that his companies are being investigated by the Division of Securities and the FBI. She also is considering legal action against Schnorenberg.
So far, the investigation in Colorado is in civil court.
On Aug. 5, Colorado Securities Commissioner Gerald Rome and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman filed a complaint asking Denver District Court for a temporary restraining order, and another complaint asking the court for a preliminary injunction against the defendants
The court granted the temporary restraining order on Aug. 5.
Wednesday's preliminary injunction further blocks Schnorenberg, Kahler and KJS from representing themselves as a broker-dealers, financial planners, investment advisers and sales representatives until further action by the court. The injunction also froze their assets, forbade them from committing fraud, and forbade them from destroying or altering business documents.
According to the court filings, Schnorenberg and Kahler created KJS Marketing in 2008 to obtain investments for companies that sold insurance and financial products. Kahler has been a sales representative for KJS, but he was not registered in Colorado to do so, according to the court documents.
In 2009, they began soliciting investments in amounts from $10,000 to $50,000. They told investors their money was being used to train insurance sales agents who then would sell insurance products. Schnorenberg and Kahler lured investors with promises of guaranteed returns of 10 percent to 12 percent, and they were "'risk free'" investments, according to the court documents.
KJS Marketing was basically a "Ponzi Scheme," in which money from new investors was used to pay prior investors and diverted to personal expenses. The companies never turned a real profit or produced returns for investors, according to the court documents.
The injunction also names as relief defendants Schnorenberg's girlfriend Fortunata Rickard, his mother Betty Schnorenberg who lives in Casper, Antonio Reyes and Michael Gundzik. They are forbidden from being enriched by Schnorenberg's and Kahler's fraudulently obtained funds, according to court documents.
Gundzik is the chief executive officer and Reyes is the executive field chairman of WealthSmart America, LLC, which the Division of Securities claims is the latest of Schnorenberg's companies. WealthSmart America follows Salus Marketing Enterprises, Trinity Affiliated Group, Premier Advantage Insurance agency, Hegemon Holdings, and Quantum Success Strategies.
Most investors were told that the companies in which they had invested had failed, and they were urged to roll their assets into the next company. Some funds were redirected to the new companies without the investors' knowledge.
And Schnorenberg got a lot of the money, according to court documents.
As of Aug. 5, the Division of Securities had identified 67 separate deposits from known investors who paid money to invest in WealthSmart America (WSA).
Bank records show Schnorenberg, KJS and Kahler received about $2.8 million from investors from May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015. Of that, Schnorenberg withdrew about $1.3 million in cash. About $155,400 went to his girlfriend, $100,500 went to his mother, and about $75,000 went to other personal expenses.
"A small amount has been paid to investors who have aggressively sought repayment," according to the temporary restraining order. "Very little investor funds have been invested in WSA, and there is no evidence that any commissions have been paid by WSA to KJS Marketing."