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A Utah man is facing 18 charges in California for allegedly running an investment fraud scheme that may have cost victims as much as $65 million.
Jacob Keith Cooper, 40, a resident of Washington in southern Utah, was arrested April 5 on a warrant out of San Diego, court records show. Cooper, owner of Total Wealth Management, faces charges of conspiracy, misrepresentations in the sale of investment opportunities, theft from an elder and employing an artifice or scheme to defraud. Cooper is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday in San Diego.
Also charged are Nathan McNamee of Hurricane and California resident Douglas Shoemaker. McNamee remains at large, according to a spokeswoman for the San Diego County district attorney's office, while Shoemaker was taken into custody and arraigned April 6.
A number of alleged victims around San Diego are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Cooper touted his two-year Mormon mission in New England and boasted that he is an Eagle Scout on a Total Wealth Management website.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Cooper and his company in February 2015, alleging he was engaging in ongoing fraud involving unregistered sales of securities.
The SEC also alleged that Cooper tried to use client funds to pay fines from an earlier agency administrative action against the company and was taking other "substantial funds" in the guise of administrative fees.
A court-appointed receiver also found that Cooper had received kickbacks of $775,000 from entities in which Total Wealth had invested funds, then spent $530,000 of investor funds to pay legal fees to fight the SEC lawsuit, according to court documents.
The Wealth Management receiver, Kristen A. Janulewicz, an accountant in Irvine, Calif., said in her initial report to a federal judge that Cooper had revenue-sharing arrangements and collected management and other fees from companies in which he had placed investor monies. But these firms were insolvent, appeared to be losing money or "had unusual affiliations" with Cooper, she added.
Cooper solicited clients for Total Wealth on a weekly radio show called "Minding Your Own Business," where he discussed investments, including opportunities in his own companies.
He told listeners that Total Wealth's investments were safe even in an economic downturn and that returns had been up to 18 percent, according to the SEC. firstname.lastname@example.org