A Southern California man named Steven J. Muehler is blatantly ignoring a ban from the equity crowding funding industry lobbed by the Securities and Exchange Commission last year. I am reporting exclusively for Growth Capitalist that Muehler is once again behind a scheme to bilk start-up CEOs out of their much needed cash with promises of helping them launch a successful mini-ipo offer and secure millions in investments. A promise now proven to be a fistful of lies.
Here is sample of my reporting at trade publication Growth Capitalist. It’s free to register to read the articles.
A California securities offering promoter who was the subject of the very first SEC enforcement action taken against a participant in the newly reformed Reg A market has been linked to a group of websites claiming to offer capital-hungry companies and their investors a soup-to-nuts money raising experience in exchange for cash fees and shares, despite lacking the necessary securities licenses to do so legally, and in seeming defiance of a recent ban imposed by the agency.
Steven J. Muehler, 41, a Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based financial consultant with a history of federal and state securities law violations that led him to be banned from the industry last June, has reconstituted his now four-year old scheme to create an “alternative securities market” for Reg A companies with a full suite of services including deal advisory, offering marketing and securities brokerage, proprietary investment by self-managed venture funds, and a listing market for secondary sales, an investigation by Growth Capitalist has found.
My editor and I took a month to investigate Muehler’s new scheme through painstaking document searches of corporate records and regulator filings to prove this fraud. Muehler’s new company is called Alta Vista Capital Markets or Alta Vista Private Client. He even started a fake alternative trading system called NanoCap Market that has claimed to be registered with the SEC but isn’t. This time around Muehler used his wife Claudia’s name on legal documents and convinced a LA man, who once was a registered investment adviser, Koorosh “Danny’ Rahimi to be the named CEO of his new company. Our reporting at Growth Capitalist shows how Muehler was controlling the company behind the scenes. To the point of even using Koorosh’s company email to speak with potential and existing clients.
After Muehler heard from some of his CEO clients that I was asking questions about the legitimacy of his business we saw him change the company website and take down claims of being registered or working on a broker dealer license. It took finding issuers he had sold his up-front fee scheme, to go on the record to prove how much Muehler was truly involved in the business. The phone interviews I had to make involved being first to tell an excited CEO that the Regulation A offering (mini-ipo) they had submitted to the SEC, that was supposed to help their business raise millions in needed capital, was done with a bad actor and there likely were not millions of dollars in Muehler’s Venture Funds to invest in their offering. It was a sad reality for CEOs to hear the $10k they had given AltaVista was wasted and more sad was the fact that it wasn’t the SEC who was making that phone call to victimized CEOs first.
AltaVista had even gone as far as filing initial Form D’s with the SEC to show potential clients there was a real fund but then didn’t list raising any money in the RegD offering. I was told by one CEO after our reporting came out two weeks ago that Muehler wasn’t that worried about his scheme being exposed by Growth Capitalist because the reporting is behind a paywall!
The SEC is fully aware of Muehler’s new scheme. I reported a whistleblower and an attorney, who works in the equity crowdfunding space, have altered the regulator. The regulator also acknowledged they read our 3-part investigative reporting. But with a new Trump regime of lax regulation it’s unclear how long the securities regulator will take to stop Muehler again. Given he hasn’t paid the $400k fine from the last enforcement action it appears it will take a criminal charge to curb this bad boy.
Which is why it is even more important for investigative journalist to be supported with your donations and subscriptions. If you think this reporting is informative please donate today. Because it’s doubtful we can count on our government agencies warning the market about fraud…that now falls mainly to financial journalist. Additionally, since it’s free to register now at Growth Capitalist I encourage you to do so right away. You will have a chance to read good insight into the equity crowdfunding, mini-ipo market and see what quality journalism looks like.