SEC Sues Utah Man For $145 Million Real Estate Investing Fraud

July 02, 2010, 12:46 PM EDT

By Joshua Gallu

July 2 (Bloomberg) — The Securities and Exchange Commission sued a Utah man for falsely telling customers their $145 million would be invested in commercial real estate while instead directing funds to other ventures, including a sandwich- in-a-can business.

Travis Wright, 47, sold promissory notes for his Waterford funds to about 175 investors from 2001 to 2009, the SEC said in a lawsuit filed at U.S. court in Salt Lake City yesterday. Wright used only $6 million of investor money in a manner consistent with his promises, the agency alleged.

The SEC said Wright, who used more than $15 million of clients’ money to pay for a “lavish” lifestyle for himself and his friends, told investors he would use their funds to make loans secured by liens on commercial real estate. Of 20 investments, about five were made in accordance with his promises, according to the lawsuit.

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