The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint Tuesday against Scott Valente of Schenectady, an investment adviser who allegedly lied to clients about the success of investments and took their money for personal use.
The SEC is charging Valente and his Albany-based investment advisory firm The ELIV Group LLC with raising more than $8.8 million from about 80 clients by falsely claiming positive returns and using those funds for personal expenses.
Valente reportedly used the client funds on home improvements and mortgage payments. He also used some of the cash to pay for jewelry and a vacation home, the SEC said. The SEC is seeking an asset freeze to stop Valente’s alleged behavior.
“Valente used his one-man advisory firm to fraudulently lure unsuspecting investors in the Albany and Warwick communities to invest millions of dollars with him as advisory clients,” said Andrew Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York office. Valente’s firm has offices in Albany and Warwick, Orange County.
Calamari added: “He said all the right things to make investors believe he was making the right investments and taking the right precautions with their money, but he was merely telling blatant false tales about the safety and success of the investments.”
The ELIV Group has not earned positive results, but has instead experienced consistent investment losses for the past three years, according to a news release from the SEC. Valente allegedly stole at least $2.7 million from his clients.
The SEC complaint charges Valente and his firm with violating the Securities Exchange Act and the Investment Advisers Act. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Valente previously filed twice for bankruptcy and started the Albany firm after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority permanently expelled him from the industry five years ago, the SEC said.
According to the complaint, Valente told clients that he is “dedicated to the highest standard of service” and that he left the financial industry to find “a better way for clients to achieve financial independence.”