No yield hungry investor wants to miss out on the next Google, the next big thing. But as this Securities and Exchange Commission civil prosecution shows the only big things in some start-ups may be fraud. A number of high net worth individuals thought an Orange County, California investment adviser was appealing. But they were mistaken and taken to the cleaners for $14 million for undisclosed and excessive fees, claims the SEC.
According to an SEC court filing, Stuart Frost and his investment advisory firm, Frost Management Company, raised $63 million from the investors to put into another firm he owned, Frost Data Capital (FDC) that was supposedly performing operational support and other services to help incubate a portfolio of start-ups. In reality, much of the money was said to have been diverted to fund a lavish lifestyle for him which included a boat, luxury cars and an archery range.
“When Frost needed more cash to fund his lavish lifestyle, he created new portfolio companies and, after investing more fund capital into the new companies, FDC then extracted even more incubator fees,” according to the SEC complaint. The SEC is alleging Frost and his investment advisory firm violated their fiduciary duties by keeping the super-charged fees hidden from the investors.