Banned by SEC: Steven Muehler starts another advance fee scheme

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 excited CEOs that the Regulation A offering (mini-ipo) they had submitted to the SEC, which 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 AltaVista Venture Funds to invest in their offering. It was a sad reality for CEOs to hear the $10k they had given AltaVista was wasted.

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 and mini-ipo market.


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  1. Jason Rager says

    He is now going by Steven Leite but still operating out of 4050 Glencoe, in Marina Del Ray, I met him in the conference room there which bolstered my foolish confidence in him.

    Took me for $600 to file with SEC and $2,750 for Geologist fees that were supposed to be the last step to funding my project.

    Worst part is after he had my money, he left me waiting in a hotel room in LA for two weeks while he strung the fake Geologist meeting out with constant excuses.

  2. Concur with Jason…. Steve has been “working” us through Nanocap and Alta Vista. We were told that Nanocap was sold, site is now down. He has started a new scam called Confidential Portfolio Management that he was trying to take us for $750 to arrange a placement through a “Family Office”… He presented himself to us as Steve Leite not Steve Muehler. Shows lots of good thorough documentation but all BS in the end.

  3. Concur with Jason and Robert B…. Steve has been “working” us through Nanocap and Alta Vista. We were told that Nanocap was sold, site is now down. He has started a new scam called Confidential Portfolio Management that he took me for over $10,000 to arrange a placement through a “Family Office”… He presented himself to us as Steve Leite not Steve Muehler. Shows lots of good thorough documentation but all BS in the end.

  4. Steven J. Muehler and Steven Leite (same person as Jason says above) has a new venture:

    Which he stole the name from the name of our organization,

  5. We just got scammed we are working on getting him put away, he and his wife.

    • Coral snake says

      Now he is threatening me if I don’t take this off the website I will have to stay involved with he and his lies. We have been scammed by Steve Leite/Muehler and also we were sent documents to sign in witch were sent over to us by his wife Claudia Leite and we have copies of all transactions with his and her names on them that have been turned over to the authorities. He thinks he is getting away with taking people’s money but he has a big surprise coming his way! Keep your friends close and your enemies closer! You are going down , both of you!

      • Steve's Victim says

        We should compare notes so we can get this crook thrown in jail where he belongs.

        • He is again under investigation for his scams. We are working on getting him put away. He is evil and his wife Claudia is right along side of him.

        • Please let me know how to get in touch with you regarding this individual. I am about to contact the district atty. now & anyone else who will listen and hopefully take action.

  6. Steve's Victim says

    This crook is now using the alias of Steven Joseph and has altered his upfront fee scheme to steal money from real estate investors/developers so he can avoid the SEC ban. He had a “company” called CMBC (an acronym for Commercial Mortgage Backed Certificates) with a fake office address in Santa Monica. He then changed the name to Private Placement Debt Markets this year, whom he claims he had a “merger” with. They have a fake office address on Wall Street in NY. He claims to have relationships with wealthy family offices and institutional investors who pool their funds together and loan the money to investors. I know of several different investors he has taken fees from and he has not closed any of the loans. He’s constantly making excuses why the deals aren’t closing, some of which actually sound plausible. He likes to throw around technical financial jargon to make himself sound smart, but he’s nothing more than a con man and a liar. My question is: “Why is this guy not in jail?” How can a guy steal over $500K in fees from dozens of victims over many years and still be out doing the exact same thing time and time again? The answer I believe is he takes amounts small enough to make it financially unfeasible to chase him in civil court, and the amount he has stolen collectively is not enough to get the attention of financial regulators. They like to go after the big fish who are stealing millions, not merely hundreds of thousands. As white collar criminals go, he’s small time.

    • Hi there. I think my client has been victimized by him. Can you email me at It was for a large real estate deal. Actually multiple real estate deals. I would like to compare notes. Perhaps we can help each other. I wonder if he can be tried if enough fraudulent documentation is shown.

  7. He is Steven J Muehler, aka Steven Mueller –he took my fathers 50k back in the early 2000’s promising stock cert’s which he finally sent some ‘temporary certs signed by him in magic marker— contacted him continually for over years asking either dividend proof or refund–he is the master of stalling and stalling and lying. I cannot believe, either, that he is continually allowed to be free to continue his theft.
    He and his wife, are unbelievable. I thought by now, he would have criminal charges brought against them What does it take to get that done ??

    • Marilyn and friends, he’s operating under a new alias and a new company now, and continuing to con people. Who’s pursuing this guy and how can I get in touch with you?

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