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Couple Say Con Man Rolled Them for $1M

AUSTIN (CN) - A "con man" who "holds himself out as an expert and mentor in 'life and business'" rolled a married couple for $1 million, and used some of the money to buy his girlfriend a house, they couple claim in court.

Larry and Phyllis Mills sued "Nate" Brooks, Brooks's wife, Shelley, and their company NABSHB LLC, all of Austin.

The Millses also "reluctantly" sued the Brookses' daughter, Jasmine, "because her parents' fraudulent transfer of property to her makes her a necessary and indispensable part of this lawsuit," according to the complaint in Travis County Court.

The lawsuit states: "According to his website (natebrooks.com), Brooks 'is known as The Gentle Rhino because he is tenacious and dedicated to helping everyday people become their best ... with a gentle loving attitude that supports people to have the courage to get to their Next Level in life, business and wealth creation.' His repertoire of fee-based services include 'investing,' 'day trading,' and 'wealth mentoring,' subjects he purports to approach from the 'undeniable CORE starting point [of] Truth, Respect, and Love.' The website further claims that 'high-end traders' pay Brooks up to $1,995.00 per hour to learn his 'Day Trading Rhino Methodology.' Brooks also owns and manages defendant NABSHB, although that entity is not mentioned on his website. Brooks is not registered in Texas or with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a securities dealer or investment adviser."

Phyllis Mills claims she contacted Brooks at the recommendation of a business acquaintance, "Ms. Doe," who had helped them with investments before. Doe is not a party to the lawsuit.

On April 24, 2012, the Millses claim, at Brooks's direction, they wired $1 million to NABSHB, which Brooks was to invest in commodity contracts and other securities, using his "Rhino" methodology.

Their first monthly statement showed a 2.52 percent return - i.e., an annual rate of more than 30 percent - so in July 2012 they sent him another $350,000 for "what Brooks described as a 'revolutionary' water-saving shower valve," according to the lawsuit.

Early this year, the Millses say, Brooks called Phyllis Mills and told her that Ms. Doe had become "unstable" and might try to persuade them to end their dealings with him. Brooks reassured Phyllis Mills that "all was well" and to ignore any advice from Ms. Doe about ending their financial relationship, according to the complaint.

The Millses claims that they did get a call from Doe, who said that Brooks' investments were anything but "conservative" and that he had "squandered" $400,000 of the Mills' money.

Doe told them that Brooks had hidden the investments he had made for her, "because he knew that she would not allow them," that several versions of Brooks's "revolutionary" water valve were already on the marker, "and that the 'opportunity' was almost guaranteed to fail," according to the complaint.

So, the Millses say, they asked Brooks for their money back, and an accounting, and Brooks agreed to refund $355,000. He said he needed more time to return the rest because the funds were "not readily liquidable," according to the complaint.

But they never saw another dime for months, the Millses say. And they claim the only accounting he provided was that he had spent $80,700 "to finance the purchase of a home for Ms. Doe."

Doe confirmed that she and Mills were "romantically involved from at least April 2012 until June 2013," the Millses say in the complaint, during which time he told her "repeatedly ... that he intended to divorce his wife, defendant Shelley Brooks."

In the meantime, Brooks told Doe that he would pay her "commissions ... for bringing him plaintiffs' account," according to the lawsuit. The commissions allegedly took the form of mortgage payments on the house he'd bought her.

Finally, the Millses claim, Brooks and his wife have tried to scatter their assets through various means, including a sham divorce in which Shelley gave property to their daughter, and to other people.

The Millses seek return of their $915,000, plus costs, a restraining order and injunction, and punitive damages for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, fraudulent inducement and securities violations.

They are represented by Jason Norwood with Renshaw & Norwood, of Houston.

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