TRENTON — A New Jersey couple faces a lawsuit by the state's attorney general and Division of Consumer Affairs for allegedly selling loans and at least $1.9 million in unregistered securities to investors throughout five states.
According to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, Ford Graham and his wife Katherine Graham gained more than $5 million by selling the unregistered securities as "low-risk, high-reward investment opportunities in gas and oil projects." The couple relied on their social connections to earn the trust of potential investors then used the investor's money for personal use such as vacations, country club memberships and private schools for their children. The couple also used the funds to repay previous investors, the Attorney General's Office said.
“Ford Graham and his wife allegedly used their social connections in the affluent Princeton community to lure investors into a Ponzi scheme that financed the defendants’ posh lifestyle of country clubs, private schools, and tropical vacations,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “The bureau’s action seeks to hold the defendants accountable for their actions and require them to return the ill-gotten funds to defrauded investors.”
“Investors tend to lower their guard when someone they know socially or professionally offers them an opportunity to invest in a ‘sure thing,’ as happened here,” added New Jersey Bureau of Securities chief Christopher Gerold.
The lawsuit seeks disgorgement of profits, restitution for investors, civil penalties and a permanent injunction against the couple's involvement in the state's securities industry, according to Grewal's office.