The Securities and Exchange Commission(S.E.C.) has filed charges against a number of Portugese companies operating as Winds Network for running a multi-level marketing company offering digital and mobile solutions to customers.However, Wings Network’s revenues actually came solely from selling memberships to investors, not from the sale of any products. The company relied upon the recruitment of new members, and commissions were paid to earlier investors with money received from later investors. The scheme raised at least $23.5 million from thousands of investors, including many in Brazilian and Dominican immigrant communities in Massachusetts.Several of the scheme’s promoters charged in the SEC’s complaint live in Marlborough, Mass.
According to the SEC’s complaint, the scheme was orchestrated by Wings Network officers Sergio Henrique Tanaka of São Paulo, Brazil and Davie, Fla., Carlos Luis da Silveira Barbosa of Lisbon, Portugal, and Claudio de Oliveira Pereira Campos of Lisbon, Portugal. After establishing a network of lead promoters, recruitment of new members surged through the use of social media such as Facebook and YouTube. The promoters used Facebook to publicize “business meetings” that took place at hotels and other locations in Connecticut, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, and Utah. The promoters also set up storefronts or “training centers” to lure investors into attending Wings Network presentations. For example, one promoter used a storefront in downtown Philadelphia to make presentations to prospective investors, and another promoter rented office space in Pompano Beach, Fla., and spread the word in the local Latino community to attract prospective investors to come in and hear presentations.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that the Portuguese entities and principals Tanaka, Barbosa and Campos violated antifraud provisions Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10-b-5 thereunder, and registration provisions Section 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act, and that the promoter defendants violated Section 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act.