Rolled by a Recidivist, Investor Says
SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - After losing a $6 million judgment for fraud, a man went right ahead and swiped another $600,000 through a sham venture capital firm, an investor claims in court.
Mazen Luqman, of Dubai, sued three men and their company, in Orange County Superior Court.
The defendants are Timothy Gates of Homeland, Calif.; attorney Rex Lowe of San Clemente; and Stephen Slaughter, alleged CEO of defendant Universal Venture Holdings, of Pretoria, South Africa.
Luqman claims the three men work together, "pretending to be legitimate professionals ... with a common purpose to steal money from innocent victims, such as plaintiff, and hide the money stolen".
In fact, Luqman says, this complaint "arises out of a virtually identical set of facts and circumstances, which was the subject of a previous lawsuit."
In that case, Total Access Payments v. Matthew Anderson et al., a jury found that Gates and co-defendants Matthew Anderson and Rhett Shepard committed fraud through a "complex financial scheme," and ordered Gates and Shepard to pay Total Access Payments $5.25 million, Luqman says in his new complaint. He says the jury found Gates' conduct "so egregious that punitive damages should be awarded."
Luqman's complaint continues: "Judgment was entered against Gates for over $6 million dollars in early 2013. To date, collection efforts have been fruitless against Gates."
Gates was a defendant in a federal RICO complaint filed by Total Access Payments in Los Angeles in 2010. Late last year, U.S. District Judge George King dismissed the case without prejudice after parties settled.
In the new complaint, Luqman claims he deposited $600,000 into a Deutsche Bank Trust Company in New York, of which Lowe was allegedly the beneficiary, to invest in diamond, gold, coal, copper and silver commodities managed by Universal Venture.
Gates claimed he owned a gold mine in Uganda, Luqman says in the lawsuit, but Gates actually was in "financial ruin" and Universal Venture Holdings was a sham.
"In reality, Universal Venture Holdings Pty Ltd was a subterfuge for the illegal activities of Gates, Lowe and Slaughter to defraud willing investors of their money," Luqman says in the complaint.
He seeks damages for fraud and negligence.
Luqman is represented by Phillip Layfield of El Segundo, who did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Universal Venture Holdings could not be reached for an interview.