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Ashcroft takes action against investment firms

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Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office issued orders after Missourians lost money to investment firms in Tennessee and Dublin, Ireland.

In the first case, the Nashville, Tennessee, executives behind iPractice Group Inc. agreed to pay $70,000 in restitution, $20,000 to the state education and protection fund and $5,000 in investigation costs after Missouri residents incurred more than $600,000 in losses investing in the company, according to a news release.

Company incorporators Ting Chang, who was CEO, and Michael Morgan, who was chief operating officer, consented to findings that from October 2010 through September 2012, at least 16 Missouri residents lost money investing in iPractice Group.

“Investors should know whether the people with whom they are investing are properly registered, and the true financial condition of their investment,” Secretary of State Securities Commissioner David Minnick said in the release. “A properly informed investor may have made a different decision.”

In the Dublin, case, Ashcroft’s office issued a final cease-and-decease order to Rumelia Capital.

The company is accused of selling unregistered, nonexempt binary options — what Ashcroft officials call all-or-nothing wagers — to an investor in Missouri. The Missourian first invested $15,750 in Rumelia in late 2016, and later was charged $4,000 without her knowledge, according to a news release.

The investor was provided statements showing her account value had grown to $25,146. Two weeks later, she found an account balance of $14,656. She was then unable to withdraw funds from the account or contact Rumelia officials, according to Ashcroft’s office.

“Most binary options firms operate outside of the U.S. and are not registered with the appropriate regulatory agency,” Minnick said in the release. “If you are contacted through the internet by a binary options firm, do your own due diligence and check them out before turning over your credit cards, money or other financial information.”

Ashcroft’s office ordered Rumelia to pay restitution, civil penalties and investigation costs totaling $145,000.

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