A former insurance agent one of two people who have been charged with operating a Ponzi scheme allegedly bilking investors from Los Angeles and Kern Counties out of $21 million dollars.
Michelle Kenen Seward, 42, of Flintridge, surrendered to authorities on Sept. 10, and Dror Soref, 75, of Los Angeles was arrested on Sept. 11.
They are accused of orchestrating an elaborate movie investment scheme.
A California Department of Insurance Investigation was conducted with the Department of Business Oversight. The investigation uncovered evidence that Seward, a former licensed insurance agent and CEO of Protege Financial and Insurance Services Inc. 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.
The 2009 film starring Simon Baker and Paz Vega grossed $54,000 in theaters, according to IMdb. Soref began his career directing music videos for “Weird Al” Yankovic.
In some cases, Seward allegedly 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.
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