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Secretary of state takes action against Lebanon CPA

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Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s Securities Division is intervening in alleged fraudulent activity by a Lebanon certified public accountant and two out-of-state companies.

Ashcroft’s office alleges Douglas Richardson, via Douglas A. Richardson CPA LLC, offered and sold unregistered, nonexempt securities in the Lebanon area as recently as April. He also allegedly solicited investment dollars, often from older Missourians, but instead used them for personal expenses, according to a news release.

While serving as chief financial officer for Oklahoma-based Smart Prong Technologies Inc. until June 2016, Ashcroft’s office alleges Richardson embezzled more than $3 million through Douglas A. Richardson CPA LLC’s bank accounts. After he resigned from Smart Prong, Richardson allegedly received another $1.3 million purportedly for shares in the Oklahoma company, as well as Lebanon-area propane businesses, sued car dealerships, rock quarries, real estate and furniture stores, according to the release.

Investors were promised a quick turnaround on their investment with interest rates as high as 12 percent, but many investors did not receive their promised returns, Ashcroft’s office alleges.

In October, a civil suit was filed against Richardson and is pending in Greene County Circuit Court. Ashcroft’s office is seeking more than $4 million with interest in restitution, civil penalties of $55,000 and the repayment of investigation costs, according to the release.

“Our office is looking out for Missourians and will pursue those who violate our laws and harm investors,” Ashcroft said in the release. “When an individual, registered or otherwise, solicits investors and doesn’t use the money as promised, it’s fraud, and we will take action.”

Targeting Missouri
Ashcroft’s Securities Division also is investigating Nashville, Tennessee-based iPractice Group inc. and Colorado Springs-based Pharyn Resources Inc.

The Missouri secretary of state’s office seeks $840,000 in restitution plus interest, civil penalties totaling $120,000 and investigation costs against iPractice Group, which allegedly defrauded Missouri investors, according to a news release.

Company executives Ting Chang, Michael Morgan and Colin Purcell allegedly made false statements to gain investment dollars. At least 16 Missourians invested with the company, according to the release.

In the case against Pharyn Resources, Ashcroft’s office alleges the Colorado company unlawfully practiced in Missouri. Specifically, the company is accused of offering an older resident an investment opportunity and only paying back 10 percent of the amount.

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