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.
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.”