Ferndale man convicted in father's $50 million fraud scheme caught in new fraud scheme, SEC says

Antonio Bravata found guilty of fraud in 2013

A Ferndale man is accused in a fraud scheme. (WDIV)
A Ferndale man is accused in a fraud scheme. (WDIV)

FERNDALE, Mich. – A Ferndale man who was convicted six years ago in a $50 million fraud scheme masterminded by his father has been caught in another fraud scheme involving his incarcerated father, his father's friend and a fake team of lawyers, according to the SEC.

Officials with the Securities and Exchange Commission said Antonio M. Bravata, 31, of Ferndale, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by a jury in 2013 in connection with a BBC Equities fraud scheme.

He was sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay $7 million in restitution, according to court records. He was released from prison May 14, 2018, according to government records.

His father, John Bravata, is serving a 20-year sentence for masterminding the BBC Equities scheme, the criminal complaint says.

New fraud scheme

SEC officials are accusing Antonio Bravata of offering securities similar to those in the BBC Equities scheme while serving the final months of his prison sentence.

Officials said Antonio Bravata was still on home confinement while offering securities in a company called Primo World Ventures, which he owned and controlled. His father served as an adviser while being incarcerated, according to authorities.

John Bravata advised his son over the phone and through email from federal prison and encouraged Antonio Bravata to offer Primo securities to investors, SEC officials said.

"Antonio Bravata drafted offering materials for Primo that are strikingly similar -- in places, word-for-word identical -- to offering materials issued by BBC Equities," the criminal complaint reads.

Antonio Bravata filed Primo's articles of organization, prepared offering documents, obtained permission from a financial institution to hold Primo securities in IRA accounts and offered the securities to at least one person, according to court documents.

Antonio Bravata knew that his criminal history and role in the BBC Equities scheme would deter investors, so he concealed his involvement in Primo, officials said.

He prepared Primo's offering materials and didn't disclose his role in the company, falsely stating another person was in charge of the daily operations, according to court records.

On the Primo website, Antonio Bravata made false statements that the company used a team of lawyers, accountants, real estate professionals and analysts, the criminal complaint alleges.

In reality, that team didn't exist, officials said. Primo was limited to Antonio Bravata, his father and a former BBC Equities salesman enlisted in the Primo scheme, according to authorities.

The salesman was recruited to be Primo's titular CEO and fund manager, officials said. He was a friend of John Bravata, who asked the salesman to help his son get back on his feet after his release from prison, court records show.

Primo shut down

Before Antonio Bravata could complete any sales of Primo securities, the SEC's Division of Enforcement stepped in and shut down the offering, court records show.

Antonio Bravata is accused of violating multiple sections of the Securities Act of 1933.

The SEC is asking for a permanent injunction against Antonio Bravata to prevent him from participating in the issuance, purchase, offer or sale of any security.

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