SEC Fights to Stop Fraud Scam Targeting Small Businesses

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against “repeat securities law violator” Steven J. Muehler, who it has barred from associating with any broker-dealer since 2016. Once again, the regulator is accusing him of defrauding small businesses.

Muehler and his companies Altavista Capital Markets LLC, Alta Vista Securities, LLC, and Alta Vista Private Client, LLC—all unregistered brokerage firms— offered broker-dealer services to a number of small business clients. Services include finding investors and raising money from them through an online securities change that was supposedly proprietary. In exchange, fees were paid to Muehler and his brokerage firms, as well as rights to a percentage of the funds raised and equity in each business.

Muehler and his firms claimed that they have been successful in raising millions of dollars on clients’ behalf. However, in a previous SEC case, he admitted defrauding small businesses.

The SEC, in this latest case, is accusing Muehler and his broker-dealers of making fraudulent claims to prospective customers, including that the online exchange was SEC registered, the firms had $50M for investing in securities, and they had previously helped customers raise funds. Muehler and his AltaVista companies are accused of not disclosing to investors that an SEC cease-and-desist order involving regulators in Minnesota and California had been issued against him.

Claudia Muehler, who is Muehler’s spouse, and associate Koorosh Rahimi also face SEC charges for allegedly helping Muehler with the fraud. Mrs. Muehler, who co-founded the AltaVista Companies with her husband, has never been registered with the SEC nor has she served as an associated person with any entity registered with the regulator. As for Rahimi, he too was not registered with the Commission as an investment adviser or broker-dealer while working for the AltaVista companies nor was he associated with a registered broker-dealer or investment adviser at the time. He previously was a registered investment adviser and/or representative with a number of other firms.

Now, the SEC wants disgorgement, interest, penalties, and permanent injunctions.

Please contact The SSEK Partners Group to set up your free case consultation with one of our experienced institutional investor fraud lawyers.

Read the SEC Complaint (PDF)

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