British Columbia Securities Commission

British Columbia Securities Commission

January 30, 2007 13:10 ET

BCSC Settlement Helps Investors Partially Recoup Money Lost in Ponzi Scheme

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 30, 2007) - British Columbia residents, who lost about $1.3-million in a U.S.-based "Ponzi" scheme, could recover about half of their money after the B.C. Securities Commission negotiated a settlement with four men involved in getting people - mostly Christian evangelicals - to invest in the venture.

John DeVries, Ernest Reed Grafke, Ralph Bromley and Wesley Campbell have admitted that they directly or indirectly got B.C. residents to invest in securities of Amber Enterprises without being registered and without filing a prospectus as required under securities laws.

DeVries, a Turks and Caicos resident, established Amber to allow people to invest in IPIC Investments - a California-based operation that supposedly ran an import-export business, but was found to be a Ponzi scheme after U.S. regulators raided it and a receiver took over its affairs. (A Ponzi is an investment scam that pays out current investors with money from new investors.)

In the settlement, DeVries and Grafke have together agreed to pay $500,000 to the BCSC for restitution to B.C. Amber investors. DeVries was the president, secretary and sole shareholder of Amber and Grafke is a Texas pastor who introduced DeVries to Gregory Setser, a former pastor who ran IPIC. Grafke was also responsible for overseeing the production and dissemination of information materials to potential investors in Amber.

As part of the settlement, DeVries and Grafke agreed they will consent to an order by the Supreme Court of British Columbia enabling the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) to provide restitution to investors. The BCSC will forward the monies collected from the two men to the CFO once the Court issues the consent order. Devries and Grafke have also been banned from the B.C. capital markets, with DeVries out for 17 years and Grafke out for 15 years.

Bromley, a former pastor at Kelowna-based New Life Church, has agreed to pay the BCSC $9,000 and has been banned from the capital markets for five years except in limited circumstances.

Campbell, a co-founder and former pastor of New Life Church, received a two-year ban from the capital markets except in limited circumstances.

The B.C. Securities Commission is the independent provincial government agency responsible for regulating trading in securities within the province. You may view the settlement on our website by typing in the search box the names of the individuals or Amber Enterprises or 2006 BCSECCOM 54. If you have questions, contact Andrew Poon, Media Relations, 604-899-6880.

The Civil Forfeiture Act was brought into force on April 20, 2006. It is intended to deter unlawful activity by providing the legal mechanisms necessary to allow for the forfeiture of property acquired through unlawful activity. The Act also allows the Civil Forfeiture Office to manage and dispose of forfeited proceeds, and includes the authority to make payments to eligible victims, as in this case.

Contact Information

  • British Columbia Securities Commission
    Andrew Poon
    (604) 899-6880 or (B.C. & Alberta) 1-800-373-6393