SEC charges English soccer CEO for fraud

Marsh Lane (above pic), is the home of Oxford City F.C. This is one facility that is supposed to help “earn more than $238 million over five years” if you believe their CEO. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges on Oxford City F.C. CEO Thomas Anthony Guerriero after defrauding investors by overinflating Oxford City’s assets and his credentials.

According to a SEC press release, Guerriero claimed that his company Oxford City Football Club Inc. was “the largest publicly traded diversified portfolio of professional sports teams in the world” and that he was a high level CEO and one of the titans of Wall Street. In fact, according to the SEC, Guerriero was running a penny stock company and was lying about the financial position Oxford City was in. He raised more than $6.5 million from investors due to his supposed fraud.

He claimed to investors that Oxford City as well as other low league teams his company owns throughout the United States and England, that the teams were making money. Now, anyone sho follows soccer should know that most teams, even the best and most well known teams in the world, do not make money or the kind of money Guerriero is supposedly suggesting. Especially a team that isn’t even a part of the English Football League and in the sixth level of English soccer. But to someone who may not be familiar with soccer sees that plus all the other assets Guerriero claimed were making money and that looks like a can’t miss deal.

The SEC listed what Guerriero had supposedly done to fool investors to buy into his company and the team.

“Since at least August 2013, Guerriero has operated a classic boiler room scheme under the guise of nominal legitimate businesses through which millions of unregistered shares of stock were sold to investors who were deceived about the stock value and potential profits.”

“Guerriero’s salespeople sold Oxford City stock to the public based on leads lists he purchased from third parties.  Guerriero crafted scripts for the salespeople, who used aliases to mask their true identities.”

“Prospective investors were told they were being offered a limited-time deal to purchase Oxford City shares at a deep discount from the publicly quoted price.  Unbeknownst to the victims, the stock price was controlled by Guerriero.”

“Guerriero claimed to record phone conversations with potential investors using a “verbal verification system” that supposedly tied the stock “transaction” to their social security number and birthday.  In reality, Guerriero and his associates simply pressed any button on their phone to make a sound signaling the fake start of a recording.  If investors later refused to pay, Guerriero would threaten them with lawsuits based on their “recorded” verbal commitment.”

“Investors were falsely told that Oxford City would pay a 50-cents-per-share dividend within a year.  In reality, the company was losing millions of dollars a year and was legally prohibited from paying a dividend.”

“Oxford City purportedly had real estate holdings worth approximately $100 million and owned a radio broadcast network that projected profits of almost $20 million.  Oxford City actually had assets of approximately $1 million and never owned a radio station – it simply purchased one hour of air time per week.”

“Oxford City claimed to own an online university with students already enrolled and projected profits of $495 million for the upcoming five-year period.  In reality, there was no such university that ever enrolled a student or had revenue.”

“Oxford City purported it would earn more than $238 million over five years from existing and new sports-related facilities.  The truth was that Oxford City owned a minority interest in a lower division English soccer club, which generated a small amount of revenue but never turned a profit.”

According to his Linkedin page, Guerriero was Chairman and CEO of WMX Group Inc., a “conglomerate holding company.” WMX Group changed its name to Oxford City Football Club Inc. after Guerriero became CEO and President. It’s important to note in this article from the Oxford City F.C. website that WMX and Oxford City are two different companies. But on this press release, it shows that WMX as merely changing their name to Oxford City and therefore remain the same company. That in itself can be unclear to potential investors, and potentially could be fraud in itself. Especially when I type “WMX Group Inc. reviews” into Google, the words “scam,” “pyramid scheme” and “ripoff” are all over the articles on the front page of Google. Just changing your name because it’s “damaged goods” is shady in and of itself. And, looking at this Business Insider article about Guerriero’s previous company, Guerriero Wealth Holdings (which isn’t listed on his Linkedin page), shows a little bit more about how Guerriero runs things and that corroborates with what he’s being charged with by the SEC now. I know he is “innocent until proven guilty,” but where there’s smoke…

This is a cautionary tale, like anything when investing money. Do your due diligence and know what you are getting yourself into. And if you don’t, get with someone who does who can help you out. Also, if something is “too good to be true” when it comes to the stock market, it probably is.

(SEC) (image courtesy of claretarmy.co.uk)

About Phillip Bupp

News and soccer editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. I also do video highlight game coverage for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook @phillipbupp

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