SEC Halts Ponzi Scheme Preying on Retirees Attending Estate Planning Seminars
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., March 10, 2010 — The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an
emergency court order to shut down a Ponzi scheme targeting retirees in California and Illinois by
inviting them to estate planning seminars and later coaxing them to buy promissory notes for purported
The SEC alleges that USA Retirement Management Services (USARMS) and managing partners Francois
E. Durmaz and Robert C. Pribilski mass-mailed promotional materials to prospective investors and
invited them to estate planning seminars held at country clubs and banquet halls. They gained
retirees' confidence in follow-up meetings and portrayed themselves as educated and experienced in
foreign investments specifically tailored to the needs of seniors. Durmaz and Pribilski then pitched
what they represented as safe, guaranteed investments in "Turkish Eurobonds" through the purchase of
USARMS promissory notes that would earn annual returns between 8 and 11 percent.
The SEC alleges that USARMS raised at least $20 million from more than 120 investors, but did not
actually invest the money in Turkish Eurobonds as promised. Instead, returns were paid to earlier
investors with funds received from new investors in Ponzi-like fashion. Durmaz and Pribilski further
misused investor funds to finance their other businesses and purchase such things as luxury
automobiles, homes, vacations, and web-based pornography. They also wired investor money into bank
accounts belonging to individuals living in Turkey who are named as relief defendants in the SEC's
"Durmaz and Pribilski used estate planning seminars as a means to elicit investor trust and lure
retirees into investing in a classic Ponzi scheme," said Rosalind R. Tyson, Director of the SEC's Los
Angeles Regional Office.
USARMS and its securities are not registered with the SEC. USARMS is incorporated in Illinois and has
offices in Los Angeles; Irvine, Calif.; and Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Durmaz resides in Los Angeles and
Streamwood, Ill., and Pribilski resides in Lisle, Ill. Neither of them is registered with the SEC in any
capacity nor do they hold any securities licenses.
According to the SEC's complaint, filed on March 9 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of
California, Durmaz and other USARMS employees provided seminar attendees a general presentation
on estate planning and later sent them a letter inviting them to their offices for a personal consultation
"to explain the amazing steps you must take when you set up a Living Trust or Will."
The SEC alleges that once seminar attendees went to their estate planning appointments, Durmaz
examined their personal financial information and told prospective investors that they had issued
hundreds of millions of dollars in USARMS promissory notes. In addition, Durmaz falsely claimed that
he held a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and was a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Thus,
prospective investors were led to believe that Durmaz was educated and experienced in investments
specifically tailored to the needs of seniors and retirees.
The Honorable George H. Wu, U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California, granted the SEC's
request for emergency relief for investors on March 9, including an order temporarily enjoining
defendants from future violations of the antifraud provisions and freezing their assets. Judge Wu also
granted the SEC's request for emergency relief against relief defendants Sibel Ince, Marlali
Gayrimenkul Yatirimlari, Mehmet Karakus, Marlali Property Investment Company, LLC, and Gulen
John Burns, Midge's nephew was working for this firm as they were shut down.
Midge's Nephew involved in Ponzi Scheme