Chesterton Tribune



Some victims of Dunes Country fraud receive state restitution

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Four victims of a Porter County securities fraud will receive more than $30,000 from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Securities Restitution Fraud, Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced on Thursday.

The four--who will receive a total of $32,500--were victims of Gary Atkinson and Donna Harris, who were convicted in September of securities fraud. Atkinson and Harris, both Porter County residents, offered investment opportunities under the name Dunes Country Mortgage Partners or NovaStar Securities, a purported real estate development along the Lake Michigan shoreline, for which Atkinson and Harris sold promissory notes promising a 10-percent return.

Atkinson and Harris were each sentenced to eight years of probation and ordered to pay $2,183,831 in restitution to 36 victims.

Under the Indiana Securities Restitution Fund, victims of securities violations can receive up to 25 percent of their net losses, up to a maximum of $15,000. Since the Securities Restitution Fund was established in 2010, it has helped victims recover nearly $500,000 in restitution payments.

“Many scam artists quickly spend their ill-gotten gains, leaving very little which can be returned to victims,” Lawson said. “These cases demonstrate the continued importance of the Secretary of State’s Restitution Fund, through which victims can generally recoup at least some portion of their losses and begin to rebuild their lives.”

In 2007, the Securities Division brought an enforcement action against Atkinson and Harris which was resolved when Atkinson and Harris agreed to be permanently barred from the investment adviser and securities industry. Despite that bar, Atkinson and Harris continued to sell promissory notes to investors.

“Atkinson and Harris spent money given to them by investors on salaries, a vehicle, moved money between their various listed companies, and took cash withdraws out for personal use,” according to the probable cause affidavit. “Victims of the scheme were unable to obtain money from their accounts.”



Posted 11/18/2016




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