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John Woods: $3 Million in Pending Complaints Against Oppenheimer Rep

Former Atlanta stockbroker and investment adviser John Woods (CRD# 1949233) has received pending customer complaints alleging more than $3 million in damages connected to an alleged Ponzi scheme. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) records show that Woods was previously registered with Oppenheimer & Company.

John Woods’ BrokerCheck report lists four pending investor complaints and one settled investor complaint against him. It also describes a pending civil complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that he “has been running a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade.” The SEC alleges that the scheme affected more than 400 investors in at least 20 states. The scheme is called Horizon. Its targets allegedly include elderly retirees “preyed upon by investment advisers” at Southport Capital, the firm “owned and controlled” by John Woods. In connection with the alleged scheme, he and others at the firm allegedly assured investors that if they invested funds in “Horizon Private Equity,” they would enjoy 6-7% interest on their returns for two to three years. What he allegedly did not inform investors is that Southport would use new investor funds to pay ostensible returns to previous investors. In sum, the SEC alleges, “millions of dollars’ worth of investor funds are currently unaccounted for.” The SEC has charged Woods and other defendants with various violations of federal securities law. 

Three pending complaints filed in 2021 allege that while at Oppenheimer & Company, John Woods orchestrated a Ponzi scheme from 2007 until 2016, resulting in losses. The pending complaints seek aggregate damages of $3.37 million.

A fourth pending complaint filed in 2021 alleges that in connection to Horizon Private Equity, Oppenheimer & Company failed to supervise three employees conducting a Ponzi scheme, misrepresented material facts, aided and abetted fraud, and violated the Georgia RICO statute. The pending complaint seeks unspecified damages. 

A complaint filed in 2008 alleged that while he was at Oppenheimer & Company, John Woods made unauthorized trades in his account. The complaint reached a settlement of $16,822. A comment on the disclosure states that Mr. Woods “mistakenly believed he had discretion over [the] client’s account.”

John Woods also has an employment termination in his past: specifically, his August 2021 discharge from Southport Capital in connection to Ponzi scheme allegations. 

According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, John Woods holds 27 years of securities industry experience and is not currently registered, either as a broker or as an investment adviser. His registration history includes Oppenheimer & Company in Atlanta, Georgia; CIBC World Markets in New York, New York; and Lehman Brothers in New York, New York. Records show that he has passed the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination, the Securities Industry Essentials Examination, and the General Securities Representative Examination. He does not currently hold any state licenses. (Information is current as of November 11, 2021.)

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