Two arrested in alleged $21 million movie investment scheme
News: 2015 Press Release
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Michelle Kenen Seward, 42, of Flintridge, surrendered to authorities on September 10, and Dror Soref, 75, of Los Angeles was arrested on September 11 and charged with operating a Ponzi scheme allegedly bilking investors from Los Angeles and Kern Counties out of $21 million dollars in an elaborate movie investment scheme.
Department of Insurance Investigation Division Valencia officeconducted the investigation with the Department of Business Oversight and uncovering evidence that Seward, a former licensed insurance agent and CEO of Protégé Financial and Insurance Services, Incorporated and Saxe-Coburg Insurance Solutions, LLC, allegedly convinced her clients to invest their life savings in a film directed by Soref titled Not Forgotten, which was an unsecured investment.
In some cases, Seward talked clients into surrendering annuities early and paying large penalties by promising returns of between 10 and 18 percent. Investors that surrendered annuities paid more than $600,000 in penalties and fees for early withdrawal.
After the film's completion, the two formed a new entity titled Windsor Pictures, LLC, which investors were promised would produce several films. Investors were given promissory notes and told they would again earn between 10 and 18 percent on their investment.
Investigators found evidence that investors' money used to form Windsor Pictures was used to pay investors in the production of Not Forgotten. Additionally, Seward and Soref were not licensed to sell securities or provide investment advice.
The case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.
- This case was filed in Los Angeles County under the Life & Annuity Consumer Protection Program (LACPP), which was established through Assembly Bill 2316 (Chan).The LACPP established a fund to be used exclusively for protecting consumer of life insurance and annuity products by the California Department of Insurance and local district attorneys.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $394 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.