The Securities and Exchange Commission says it has cracked open what could be a sizable cattle Ponzi scheme — a suspected $191 million scheme involving Texas company Agridime LLC.
Agridime claims to specialize in meat sales, distribution, and animal supply chain management, but the SEC is accusing the defendants, Josh Link of Gilbert, Arizona, and Jed Wood of Fort Worth, Texas, of diverting millions of investor funds to make Ponzi payments.
“The defendants enticed investors with guarantees that they could ‘make money raising cattle without having to do all the work,’ but as we allege in our complaint, their promises of annual returns of 15‑32 percent were, in the defendants’ own words, ‘too good to be true,’” said Eric Werner, Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office.
According to the SEC’s complaint, filed on Dec. 11, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas and unsealed on Dec. 13, the defendants have raised at least $191 million from more than 2,100 investors in at least 15 states by offering and selling investments related to the supposed purchase and sale of cattle.
The defendants told investors that Agridime would use their funds to acquire, feed, and raise cattle on its network of ranches. Investors would help provide “fellow Americans with the highest quality farm fresh beef available.”
However, as alleged in the complaint, the defendants did not purchase nearly enough cattle or generate sufficient revenues from cattle operations to deliver the promised returns. Instead, the complaint alleges that, since December 2022, the defendants have used at least $58 million of new investor funds to make Ponzi payments to prior investors and more than $11 million to pay undisclosed sales commissions to Wood, Link, Link’s wife, and other Agridime sales representatives.
The SEC’s complaint charges the defendants with violating the federal securities laws’ antifraud and registration provisions. In addition to the emergency relief granted by the court, the SEC is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, civil penalties, and officer and-director bars against Link and Wood.
The court has scheduled a Dec. 20, hearing on the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
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