Federal investigators are seeking justice against a well-known San Diego businesswoman who allegedly defrauded dozens of investors out of $300 million through a liquor license loan funding program.
“Creating value by the square foot” reads the website for Gina Champion-Cain’s real estate company, American National Investments. But the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Thursday she has been defrauding people for years.
According to new charges filed this week in a 19-page complaint, Champion-Cain is accused of scamming investors into believing they were taking an opportunity to fund high-interest, short-term loans to people seeking California liquor licenses.
In exchange, they would make a return on their investment for each license approved. According to the complaint, Champion-Cain took advantage of the state law requiring applicants to escrow the license purchase price during the applications transfer process.
She went a step further by forging and fabricating insured documents tricking investors into believing they would be loaning the required escrow funds to these liquor license applicants.
The allegations date back as far as 2012.
It is alleged that she fabricated the entire scenario and may have used the money to fund her other businesses that include coffee shops, lifestyle brands, San Diego restaurants like Saska’s and The Patio chain, and rental properties.
The SEC has now frozen all of her assets as they try to get that money back. The government has also requested someone take over all of her businesses.
When NBC 7 asked the restaurant manager at The Patio on Goldfinch how the litigation would affect the restaurant, he could not provide comment.
NBC 7 also reached out to Champion-Cain and her company for comment and has not heard back.