Beware of sham investments

Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:44 am

Secretary of State Jason Kander on Wednesday, March 5, stopped two Branson men from selling sham investments they called “Enhanced Premium Structured Notes,” or EPSNs. Without being appropriately registered, Michael Alan Leeper Jr., and Eugene Lester Barnes along with their company, AJ&J Investment Group, Inc., took approximately $282,000 from at least nine investors for the sale of EPSNs, and now face multiple charges of securities fraud.

“Unfortunately, there are scam artists out there looking to prey on Missourians,” Kander said. “Before making any investment decision, it’s wise to investigate the person and product before handing over any money. By calling my office at 1-800-721-7996, Missourians can check on the registration status of an offering’s promoter.”

According to Kander’s office, Barnes and Leeper solicited potential investors through investment seminars, emails and online advertising. Allegedly, the AJ&J Investment Group website guaranteed returns of between 12 and 15 percent to investors.

Although investors were also allegedly promised a return within nine months of their investment, none of the notes have been paid to date. Instead, these funds were used to finance some of AJ&J’s advertising and legal costs, according to Kander’s office.

Records obtained from the EPSN trading account in October 2013 indicate that the original $282,000 had dwindled to less than $50,000. Barnes later told Kander’s office that he learned his trading formula from a man he met briefly in a hotel over 14 years ago. Barnes also indicated that the trading formula had not worked in recent years.

Today’s action prohibits the men from selling unregistered securities like EPSNs in Missouri. Kander is also pursuing an order requiring Barnes, Leeper and AJ&J to pay restitution to the harmed investors.

For more information, call 1-800-721-7996 or visit www.MissouriSafeSavings.com.