URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: Judge Declares Mantria Corp. A ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ Ponzi Scheme, Says Troy Wragg And Amanda Knorr-Led Firm Acted With ‘Sociopathic Greed’; Defendants ‘Shamelessly’ Raised $54.5 Million Through ‘Blatant Lies’
URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: Using direct, no-nonsense language, U.S. District Judge Christine M. Arguello has ruled Mantria Corp. a Ponzi scheme that operated with “sociopathic greed” to defraud investors of millions of dollars.
Some investors were encouraged to drain equity in their homes to invest with Mantria, according to the ruling.
The ruling was a straight-line win for the SEC, which charged the firm, its principals and chief pitchman in November 2009 amid allegations that Mantria had orchestrated a colossal fraud targeted at people interested in “green” energy and protecting the environment. Mantria executives Troy Wragg and Amanda Knorr were charged in the caper, as was pitchman Wayde McKelvy of an entity known as “Speed of Wealth LLC.”
Arguello found that Mantria had scammed more than $54.5 million “by egregiously, recklessly, knowingly, and shamelessly perpetrating a fraudulent scheme” that used “misrepresentations, omissions, and blatant lies to induce unsuspecting and unwitting victim investors to liquidate the equity in their homes and take out bank loans to invest in Defendants’ scheme, which was nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”
The judge’s ruling specifically points to internal Mantria emails uncovered by the SEC during the probe.
One email from Wragg to McKelvy read, “Mantria Speed of Wealth = MSOW = Many Souls Owe Wayde.” Another from McKelvy to Wragg allegedly touting seminar registrations and a new crop of suckers read, “110 registered for tonight 75% names I don’t recognize. Let’s blow them away my brother!” An email attributed to Knorr read, “Let’s just make some f*****g money.”
Mantria traded in part on the name of former President Bill Clinton, who once presented Wragg an award for commitment to the environment. Prospective investors were shown a video that included footage of Clinton and other famous politicians and business figures.
Fraud schemes often spread virally by planting the seed that famous people endorse the “opportunities” when they do not. In fraud case case after fraud case, celebrity endorsements, which are used to disarm skeptics and create positive feelings, have been manufactured out of wholecloth.
In the alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme, for instance, the U.S. Secret Service said promoters claimed that ASD President Andy Bowdoin had received an important award from then-President George W. Bush. The “award” actually was a memento for campaign donations to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to court filings.
The Secret Service is known to have seized a significant volume of email during the ASD probe. Some of it has been described in court filings as incriminating to Bowdoin.
Reporters who emailed McKelvy for comment after the SEC brought it charges against Mantria and Speed of Wealth received invitations to join the Trump Network multilevel-marketing opportunity.
“YOU MUST START YOUR OWN BUSINESS Renee!” McKelvy advised a reporter in one email, according to the Denver Business Journal. “What You Have Been Taught About Building Wealth is DEAD WRONG!”
Read the Mantria ruling on Leagle.com.