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Alleged Permian Ponzi Scheme Funded Jet, Bahamas Property Purchases

SEC files lawsuit against Heartland Group Ventures and its founders for Ponzi scheme and misleading investors.

Pumpjacks in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas.

Pumpjacks in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas.

Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

The shale industry is no stranger to accusations of promising more oil than it could deliver and spending shareholders' money unwisely, but one group of alleged Ponzi schemers in Texas took that to a whole new level. 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week sued Heartland Group Ventures LLC, its founders and a slew of affiliates who raised $122 million from more than 700 investors from at least October 2018 and October 2021. The defendants only spent about half of the money they raised on oil and gas projects in the Permian Basin, generating less than $500,000 in revenue, according to the suit filed in a Chicago federal court.