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SEC Freezes Assets of San Diego Firm and Its Owner Over Alleged Fraud

The ""Securities and Exchange Commission"":http://www.sec.gov/ (SEC) froze the assets of a San Diego-based firm and its owner over accusations of real estate fraud.

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The SEC alleges that Western Financial Planning Corporation and Louis V. Schooler, who raised $50 million from investors, worked in partnership to sell vacant land in Nevada to be held for sale for a profit at a later date.

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According to the SEC release, Schooler and Western didn't tell investors that the land was overpriced, and in some cases, marked up by more than five times its fair market value.

""Schooler conned hundreds of people into investing with Western by leading them to believe that they were getting a good value for plots of vacant land,"" said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC's Los Angeles Regional Office. ""What he didn't tell them was that the land was worth only a small fraction of their investment and that he was profiting at their expense.""

The SEC's complaint, which was filed in federal court in San Diego, alleges that Western and Schooler misled investors since 2007 by providing them with comparative prices using land that was actually not comparable to the land Western sold. The SEC alleges Schooler paid ""hush money"" to silence investors who realized they were defrauded.

A court hearing has been scheduled for September 17, 2012.

About Author: Esther Cho

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