The Securities & Exchange Commission today charged Brett M. Bartlett, his father-in-law Scott A. Miller, & their companies for fraudulent securities offerings that raised at least $20.5 million, some of which Bartlett & Miller misused for personal expenses.

According to the SEC’s complaint, from at least June 2018 to May 2020, Bartlett & Miller raised funds from more than 1,000 investors nationwide by selling promissory notes, stock, & fraudulent gold contracts through their companies, Dynasty Toys Inc., The 7M eGroup Corp., Concept Management Company LLC, & Dynasty Inc. As the complaint alleges, when soliciting investors, many of them from a large church in central Illinois, Bartlett frequently invoked his Christian faith & attributed his alleged success to divine intervention to win investor trust. The complaint further alleges that, to stave off demand for cash payouts from their unsuccessful business ventures, Bartlett & Miller misled investors, made more than $11 million in Ponzi-like payments, & sent to investors $21 million in bad checks that bounced due to insufficient funds. In addition, Bartlett & Miller misappropriated more than $1.2 million for personal use, including vacations, entertainment, & payments for a luxury rental home.

“As we allege in our complaint, Bartlett & Miller preyed on church members, & while the two proclaimed their faith, they practiced lies & deception,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “This action demonstrates our continued commitment to protecting retail investors, including victims of affinity fraud.”

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in the Central District of California, charges the defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint also charges the defendants, with the exception of 7Me, with violating the registration provisions of the Securities Act. The SEC seeks permanent injunctions, including conduct-based injunctions, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, civil penalties, & officer & director bars.

In a parallel investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois announced criminal charges against Bartlett, 7Me, & Dynasty Toys. Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education & Advocacy & the Division of Enforcement’s Retail Strategy Task Force have issued an Investor Alert with tips on how investors can avoid becoming a victim of an affinity fraud.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Colleen M. Keating & Maria Rodriguez & supervised by Finola H. Manvelian of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. The litigation will be led by Ruth Pinkel & supervised by Gary Leung. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Springfield Field Office, & the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General.