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Jerome and Shaun Cohen and Their EquityBuild Inc. Allegedly Promoted South Shore Chicago Properties as Part of a $135 Million Ponzi Scheme

The father-and-son duo of Jerome and Shaun Cohen headed up EquityBuild and a subsidiary, EquityBuild Finance, and allegedly raised $135 million from over 900 investors since 2010, according to a Complaint from the SEC under review by attorney Alan Rosca.

The purported investments touted by the Cohens allegedly included two South Shore properties—a 40-unit apartment building at 7549-7559 S. Essex Ave. and a 31-unit building at 2909 E. 78th St.—that an EquityBuild fund allegedly acquired in January for $3.2 million, according to property records from Cook County.

EquityBuild, in a telltale sign of a Ponzi scheme, also allegedly made payments to older investors with the proceeds of newer investments, paying out roughly $14.5 million in interest payments between January 2015 through February 2017 even though fees and income from EquityBuild properties totaled only $3.8 million, the SEC states.

Alan Rosca, of the Goldman Scarlato & Penny PC law firm, is investigating activity related to Equitybuild Inc.’s alleged Ponzi scheme. Investors who believe they may have lost money in activity related to Equitybuild Inc.’s alleged Ponzi scheme are encouraged to contact attorney Alan Rosca with any useful information or for a free, no obligation discussion about their options. The SEC will not recover anywhere close to the total losses, and our goal is to supplement whatever recovery is going to be available.

The SEC Has Filed an Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order Barring the Company from Further Alleged Violations of Federal Securities Laws

The SEC has also allegedly filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order which would bar EquityBuild from further violations of federal securities laws, stating that Equitybuild is still allegedly actively soliciting investors, according to the aforementioned Complaint under review by attorney Alan Rosca.

The SEC is also requesting an accounting of the company’s finances and the appointment of a receiver to oversee the company’s finances, the Complaint states.

Securities Lawyer Investigating

The Goldman Scarlato & Penny PC law firm represents investors who lose money as a result of investment-related fraud or misconduct and are currently investigating Equitybuild Inc.’s alleged Ponzi scheme. The firm takes most cases of this type on a contingency fee basis and advance the case costs, and only gets paid for their fees and costs out of money recovered for clients. Attorney Alan Rosca, a securities lawyer and adjunct professor of securities regulation, and has represented thousands of victimized investors across the country and around the world in cases ranging from arbitrations to class actions.

Investors who believe they lost money as a result of Equitybuild Inc.’s alleged Ponzi scheme may contact attorney Alan Rosca for a free no-obligation evaluation of their recovery options, at 888-998-0530, via email at, or through the contact form on this webpage. The SEC will only recover a fraction of the investor’s losses, and our goal is to supplement whatever recovery is going to be available for investors through the SEC Action.

Goldman Scarlato & Penny partner Brian Penny’s interview is available here.

Goldman Scarlato & Penny represents retired NHL players in a cutting-edge class action lawsuit alleging that the NHL failed to warn players of the short and long-term effects of repeated concussions and head trauma, failed to adequately care for its players after they received such injuries, and promoted and glorified unreasonable and unnecessary violence leading to head traumas.

A number of similar cases were filed in different courts, and on August 19, 2014, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred all the related NHL concussion cases to the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota for centralized proceedings. There are 18 related cases in the centralized action on behalf of 138 plaintiffs.

On September 14, 2014, the Court appointed Goldman Scarlato & Penny to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee. The lawsuit seeks medical monitoring and compensation for the long term harm the retired players suffered as a result of concussions sustained while playing Ice hockey at the NHL.

In March 2015, health insurer Premera Blue Cross reported a data breach that exposed the data of 11 million customers and employees.  The Premera data breach announcement followed shortly on the heels of a February announcement by Anthem Inc., the second largest health insurer in the country, that its database containing personal information for almost 80 million of its customers and employees was hacked.

Coinciding with these two breaches are an alarming number of reports of identity thieves using stolen social security numbers to file tax returns and to claim refunds in those identity theft victims’ names.  In a recent article on titled, “Why we Need to Kill the Social Security Number,” the author projected that “the 2014 tax filing year will be a bad one” in light of the Anthem data breach and the Premera data breach.

According to officials of Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s office, there has been a staggering increase in the fraudulent filing of tax returns this year.  Sara Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue Services stated, “Last year, the level of fraudulent tax returns that we were successful in uncovering and preventing refund checks from being issued was $5 million.  This year, it has already exceeded $12 million and we are being delayed in issuing refunds because of the volume levels that we are screening.”

Shortly after the Anthem data breach, Connecticut Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan advised taxpayers who may have been affected to file their taxes immediately.  “The personally identifiable information apparently hacked . . . is exactly what tax fraud thieves use to make false refund claims that appear to be legitimate. . . it can take years to resolve the problem.”  According to Blanchard, “Information from people who used Turbo Tax software has been compromised as well.”

So where does that leave Premera data breach and Anthem customers?  After aggravating attempts to file taxes and learning that returns have already been issued, it becomes a waiting game.  Hours are wasted making phone calls to TurboTax, Banks, State Revenue Departments and the IRS.  According to CNNMoney, “If you’re a tax fraud victim, the IRS freezes your refunds. Investigations are so backed up, the government says the average wait time to clear up the matter is 120 days. But more than a dozen tax fraud victims spoke to CNNMoney and said the IRS is telling them the wait is 180 days.” Sometimes more. The CNNMoney article cited examples of residents around the country, from Massachusetts, North Carolina, Missouri, Wisconsin to Florida, whose tax returns were filed and refunds claimed unbeknownst to them.

If you have experienced identity theft as a result of the failure by a health care company to protect your private information, or if you are a Premera subscriber, customer or employee and believe that your private information has been compromised or that you are a victim of the Premera data breach, please contact a GSP attorney to learn more about your rights. GSP attorneys are actively litigating similar matters against Community Health Systems, Anthem and Target. Please contact Paul Scarlato at or Mark Goldman at or call (484) 342-0700 with any questions you may have.

For more information, see:
* An Overview

* Anthem Denies Full IT Security Audit Following Massive Data Breach

* Where is the Government Oversight?
* Fraudulent Tax Filings Linked to Anthem Data Breach
* Anthem Data Breach – Names and Social Security Numbers Hacked
* Articles referenced in blogpost