The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced an emergency enforcement action and a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against Florida-based private real estate firm EquiAlt LLC, its CEO Brian Davison, and its Managing Director Barry Rybicki, in connection with an allegedly fraudulent unregistered securities offering that raised more than $170 million from at least 1,100 investors, a number of whom invested their retirement funds.
According to the SEC’s complaint, unsealed Feb. 14, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, EquiAlt, Davison, Rybicki, and the entities they control, fraudulently raised millions of dollars by making material misrepresentations to investors about EquiAlt’s investment strategy, the financial condition of the investments, and the uses of investor proceeds. The defendants allegedly told investors they would pool investor funds and use approximately 90% of the money to purchase undervalued real estate, rent or flip the properties, and pay investors 8-10% annual interest generated from the real estate investments. In reality, the complaint alleges, a large portion of investor money went to support Davison’s and Rybicki’s lavish personal spending, and less than 50% of the funds raised were used to invest in properties. In addition, money from one investment fund controlled by EquiAlt was allegedly used to make Ponzi-like payments to investors in another fund.