South Carolina Attorney General Orders Florida Company To Halt Sales Of Alleged Securities; PPE-Life Inc. Told To ‘Cease And Desist’ Amid Fraud Fears

A mysterious, upstart company registered as a corporation in Ocala, Fla., has been ordered by the attorney general of South Carolina to stop selling securities and collecting money in the state.

Attorney General Henry McMaster ordered the company — PPE-Life Inc. (PPE) — to “cease and desist” after the state’s Securities Division opened a probe May 14 amid reports the company was holding recruitment meetings in Sumter, S.C.  Sumter, a military town, is home to Shaw Air Force Base.

PPE held a meeting at a hotel about 5 miles away from the base May 20, according to records. It was unclear if members of the military were in attendance, but South Carolina has had a problem with fraud schemes targeted at military members and churchgoers.

Two PPE representatives were named in the cease-and-desist order: John Barter, who is listed as an officer of the firm in Florida records, and Rick Crocker. Barter’s address was listed as Ocala, and Crocker’s was listed as Wilmington, N.C.

Investigators said people who attended the May 20 meeting were told that PPE was the marketing arm of an unspecified “international bank.” When asked to identify the bank, Barter allegedly responded that “I am the bank.”

Attendees also were kept in the dark about other details, which were dismissed as unimportant for the purposes of the meeting.

Barter and Crocker “refused to respond to questions from attendees regarding the method by which PPE would make money or extend loans, or the products that PPE would invest in,” authorities said.

The purpose of the meeting was to “sign up.” Details would be “sorted out at a later time,” authorities said attendees were told.

Attendees were asked to pay $599 as an “initial membership fee” and a $50 per month “maintenance fee” thereafter and advised that returns of “up to $440,000 per year” could be earned through PPE.   Attendees further were told they’d become eligible for loans at a “significant discount” and that funds collected from participants would be used to purchase “debentures earning 40% to 50% interest.”

People who signed up were told they could earn “1.5% of loan payments on loans made to any members who subsequently join[ed] PPE” and also would receive a “free” credit card with a $1,000 limit, authorities said.

Meanwhile, attendees were told that PPE had spent “at least $1.5 million to ensure that the federal government would not shut down PPE” and that “older” members would benefit as “new members were recruited,” authorities said.

At the May 20 meeting, someone raised a concern that the government could shut down the program, authorities said.

In response to the concern, Barter said, “the Feds love us,” authorities said.

They added that attendees were told that meetings had been held in Sumter for “at least six weeks.”

Neither Barter nor Crocker is licensed to sell securities in South Carolina, authorties said.

Read the cease-and-desist order against PPE, Barter and Crocker.

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16 Responses to “South Carolina Attorney General Orders Florida Company To Halt Sales Of Alleged Securities; PPE-Life Inc. Told To ‘Cease And Desist’ Amid Fraud Fears”

  1. I like the speed of the AG. moved pretty quickly!!!

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  2. just sick of it: I like the speed of the AG. moved pretty quickly!!!

    Hi just sick of it,

    South Carolina was home to the infamous “3 Hebrew Boys” Ponzi, which targeted military personnel and church members.

    It also was home to the Michael Derrick Peninger Ponzi, which, among other reasons, became notable because Peninger skipped out on sentencing court before later being captured by U.S. Marshals, Charleston City police officers and FBI Agents.

    South Carolina also was home to the Oren Eugene Sullivan Ponzi scheme, whose victims included five widows, two Alzheimer’s patients and an individual with developmental impairments.

    See these stories:

    http://patrickpretty.com/2009/11/21/3-hebrew-boys-guilty-in-82-million-ponziaffinity-fraud-scheme-company-operated-in-fashion-similar-to-adviewglobal-autosurf-imploring-members-to-maintain-secrecy/

    http://patrickpretty.com/2009/11/23/asd-all-over-again-3-hebrew-boys-accuse-u-s-attorney-of-treason-claim-draws-another-parallel-to-adsurfdaily/

    http://patrickpretty.com/2010/01/10/sunday-news-and-notes-south-carolina-ponzi-victims-included-widows-alzheimers-patients-seniors-and-amputee-shocks-the-conscience-finra-says/

    http://patrickpretty.com/2010/04/22/u-s-marshals-fbi-police-capture-ponzi-figure-who-ducked-sentencing-michael-derrick-peninger-returned-to-jail-amid-reports-he-cut-transmitter-on-electronic-monitoring-device/

    Patrick

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  3. chrissy: I know several people who are in this and they have invested a lot of money in the hope aspect, and in this economy so many people need that hope. I attended 2 meetings including the may 20th and once I saw the “ring leader” I told my husband and family members they were being taken for a fast one. After feeling awful for the people there who believed this BS I went home and after entering in the addresses where the payment checks were being mailed I realized that Barter isn’t the main guy, a Terry Beyer is and that Barter was the man with the idea. I also saw that Barter has had several foreclosures and a bankruptcy a while back. This man is a con artist who cares no more for the fellow american than he does for an ant on the ground. I found all this out in 30 minutes and then ?’d the people I knew invested and asked why didn’t they research this man? They said they were wanting it to be true so bad, and even after all of this they still don’t want to face reality. I know a person who bought 12 spots for his family members. It is a sad world we live in.  

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  4. chrissy: I attended 2 meetings including the may 20th

    Hi chrissy,

    If you have a moment, please describe the May 20 meeting. Did you have a sense that PPE was pitching itself to military personnel and/or people who’d identify themselves as Christians?

    How about senior citizens? What’s you estimate of the average age of the attendees?

    chrissy: I know several people who are in this and they have invested a lot of money in the hope aspect

    chrissy, based on your comment, I’m wondering if the folks who attended this meeting might have existing financial problems and were being pitched the “solution.”

    The 3 Hebrew Boys scheme pitched itself as a debt-relief “ministry.”

    Did you get the sense — while at the meeting — that PPE was something along those lines?

    Based on information in the cease-and-desist order, it appears possible that PPE is operating in the sphere of what might be viewed as a “prime bank scheme.”

    The “debentures” claim of “40% to 50% interest” is dubious on its face.

    chrissy: They said they were wanting it to be true so bad, and even after all of this they still don’t want to face reality. I know a person who bought 12 spots for his family members. It is a sad world we live in.

    The world indeed can be a sad one at times, chrissy. But if PPE is a fraud, fewer people will end up sad and the opportunity for the fraud to mushroom will have been taken away through quick action by the AG and the Securities Division.

    Lots of times scams don’t pop onto the radar until after it’s too late — and the sadness then ripples across oceans, instead of being contained to one relatively small pond.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Patrick

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  5. The 20th meeting was larger than the first, maybe 50 people were there, only about 20 the first time. This was the first one that Barter attended, along with his “wife” and son or so he told everyone, come to find out the lady Janet Palmer who they told everyone was Jan Barter wasn’t his wife at all. This man was rude and nasty to anyone who asked a ?, in my opinion actually saying to one gentleman” did you not listen to anything I just said?”. He didn’t want to talk and describe the concept he wanted Crocker to do all the talking. He mainly watched the people’s reaction. Then he began to answer a couple of ?’s and that’s when it all went south. He also told people that he couldn’t say what he would invest in that he could go outside and tell them but not in the main room, HUH??? RED FLAG!!! Then he had what appeared to be a hand gun in his back pocket,seen by a few people, RED FLAG!!!!!, He said he was the bank, repeatedly, well someone who has had foreclosures and a bankruptcy doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy taking care of my money. RED FLAG!!! Then he brought in the “God” aspect to reach Christians, then he brought in the fact he was in Vietnam, and was a Navy Seal(military) RED FLAG< RED FLAG!!!!!!!! He was covering his bases for sure. Then from talking about investing in the bank we went to discussing cell phones, what? was I at the same meeting??? This was another RED FLAG!!! Last time I went to a bank they didn't offer me a cell phone?!? Then they were selling shirts, hello if I am giving you $600 with no promise of anything (which no matter which way they try to spin it, they did otherwise no one would invest), and then you want me to pay $30 for a shirt, whatever people!!! Thank God that some people realized this was BS, but the ones already invested are just not giving up hope, actually talking with Barter today on the phone, and he told them they could still get their money back, haha yeah I bet they can. But as for my husband and his friends who have bought 1 spot they are taking the gamble and not worrying about it, my husband is in an amusement business and is use to gambling so he isn't stresing over it. But the people that were there saying that they were going to take all their money out of their bank and put it in Barters bank, left me concerned, to say the least! If you have to lie, hide things, and be sneaky, and change dates things will happen b/c they don't happen tells me that I don't need to walk away, I NEED TO RUN AWAY!!! The AG office surprised me by acting so quickly, I found all this info out and didn't know what to do with it, so I was happy to see someone had already told!! Thanks for responding to my comment.

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  6. the age ranged from 30-60 all different ages were in attendance at the meeting.

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  7. Sounds like crissy doesnt know what she is talking about. Her husband is in this program and he’s not worried about it? Comon.

    What the problem is is that ms crissy probably is a mlm hater in general.

    Maybe you should try finding out what the program is really all about.

    You are really sounding ignorant saying that your family and friends are being stupid about this company. You are not respecting their decision making.

    Maybe you should actually talk to some of those people with an open mind.

    Just a thought.

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  8. Concerned Citizen: Sounds like crissy doesnt know what she is talking about.

    Hello Concerned Citizen,

    It sounds to me as though crissy has based her opinion on information that triggered red flags to her. Considering the state of South Carolina now is rasing questions about PPE, I’d say that it would be pretty hard to argue that crissy should have no concerns.

    Concerned Citizen: What the problem is is that ms crissy probably is a mlm hater in general.

    That’s quite a leap in logic, Concerned Citizen. If crissy has questions about PPE — and if the state itself has questions and is saying the company is selling unregistered securities — it does not necessarily follow that one must hate MLM in order to have doubts about PPE.

    Concerned Citizen: You are really sounding ignorant saying that your family and friends are being stupid about this company. You are not respecting their decision making.

    Maybe you should actually talk to some of those people with an open mind.

    Just a thought.

    My thought is that you are not emerging as a helpful supporter of PPE. Perhaps you’d care to offer an opinion on why the company could not possibly be selling unregistered securities and why people who want to know what “international bank” PPE represents should be denied the information.

    Seems to me that such information would be vital to any person’s ability to make an informed decision about sending $600 to PPE and paying an additional $50 a month on top of that.

    Patrick

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  9. From now on I guess we should realize we don’t live in a free country and can’t speak what we hear or know. As far as I am concerned the people who want to invest can and if you don’t want to don’t I said nothing that didn’t occur and saw on the internet myself. Being sued to telling exactly what happened is great!!! Wow!

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  10. chrissy,

    Who is threatening to sue you? You don’t have to name names, but if you want to, describe the types of threats you are receiving and the sources of the threats in a general way.

    If you want to name names, I’ll call the people and ask them why they are threatening to sue you and also ask how it serves their ends or PPE’s ends to threaten to sue people for expressing an opinion on what they observed and/or read in public records.

    It is a plain fact there is a cease-and-desist order against PPE. It is a matter of public record. Here is a link to the document:

    http://www.scattorneygeneral.org/securities/orders/PPE.Life.Crocker.Barter.Beyer.C&D.pdf

    If you feel threatened/endangered in any way, I suggest you call the police and the office of the S.C. attorney general.

    Take care, chrissy.

    Patrick

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  11. To Concerned Citizen

    You need to investigate more into PPE-Life. If Crissy can find this stuff then so can you. You are the one that is sounding ignorant. She saw this moron first hand. You can not judge or even understand if you have not seen this with your own eyes. If he would not answer a question in front of a group of people but said he would answer it in private then yes that is a RED FLAG! If someone who has a bankruptcy and a foreclosure says “I’m the bank” that would definitely be a RED FLAG!!

    Thank you Crissy for speaking the truth. You have the right to speak your mind. We do have Freedom of Speech in this country. If you receive any threats please do what Patrick said call your local authorities or the Attorney General’s office.

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  12. chrissy,

    In addition to Patrick’s comments regarding the threat of being sued, there are those who say that a scammer has never once actually gone to court to follow up on their threat of a lawsuit (I think littleroundman has said so and knows much more than I). It would seem that that the discovery process is far too great a risk for the scammer — they would have their business scruntinized in court, with all of their records available for examination. That is the last thing that a scammer wants to have happen.

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  13. NOTE:

    We have received an email that informs us that an unidentified lawyer has contacted a person who posted in this thread and threatened a lawsuit.

    The email did not identify the lawyer, although it noted that the unidentified lawyer was going to try to contact us.

    The unidentified lawyer is welcome to contact us through our contact form.

    Individual posters cannot remove comments. I am not going to remove comments under threats made to readers/posters. If the unidentified lawyer wants to contact me and make a reasonable case on how a cause of action exists, I’ll gladly read it.

    But I will contact both the attorney general of South Carolina and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation after hearing from the unidentified lawyer — before I do anything else.

    For now — at least — this Comments thread stands as is.

    It is my view that any person being threatened should contact the police, the South Carolina AG and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.

    Patrick

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  14. Sounds a lot like the usual scare tactics used by the crooked promoters, threaten people who tell the truth or who go against the “program”. Remember when Andy met with the Florida AG to tell him how people were talking bad about Andy and how the Ag should look into things? We see how well that turned out.

    As with the Bob and Lawyer Larry incident, I think they were more afraid of disclosure and decided to settle. I doubt that these people will carry out the threat as they have more to lose.

    Chrissy, as Patrick said, contact the authorities. Get these threats on record and see if they don’t back off a bit. Most states have laws against harassment, email, phone or otherwise.

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  15. Why would a ‘legitimate’ lawyer not identify themselves? lol.

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  16. Whip, an excellent question!!

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