A Dallas licensed petroleum engineer and radio show host has been accused of luring investors into a fraudulent oil and gas investment opportunity. A complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission states that Mark Plummer promoted oil and gas investments on his radio show, Smart Oil and Gas on KRLD. He also allegedly encouraged listeners to call in for more information. The complaint claimed that all listeners that called in were routed to Petroleum Resources of Texas, a company that was secretly working with Plummer.
The complaint, which was filed on Thursday also accused Plummer of encouraging people to invest with Petroleum Resources of Texas while leaving out the fact that he was involved and that it was owned by his former salesman, Mike Barrera. According to the complaint, Barrera allegedly was not a registered broker but he solicited and sold securities.
The complaint said the company raised millions from more than seventy investors from 2018 to 2020 in the name of two oil and gas well projects. The money, over $7 million, according to the complaint, was diverted to Plummer through his latest company. Plummer then allegedly used the funds to pay for student loans, personal credit card debt, club memberships, and car and mortgage payments.
Plummer’s business partner, Barrera was also accused of inappropriate use of funds. In the words of the complaint: “Barrera misused and misappropriated investor funds, including to pay for his lavish lifestyle.” The complaint also alleged that Bererra told investors that his company would manage well projects when Plummer was the one managing the projects.
The complaint also listed Todd Prince, George Rauch, and Todd Stuart Breitling as part of the fraud.
According to charges filed by the SEC in June 2019, Plummer’s former company, Texas E&P Partners Inc., was charged for a similar case of misappropriation of investor funds. The charges accused Plummer of misappropriating nearly $400,000 out of the $6.1 million Texas E&P raised from 2015 to 2017.
He allegedly spent the money on personal use or improper business expenses such as entertainment, retail expenses, income taxes, and travel, the charges said. According to SEO, he agreed to settle the charges with a payment of over $500,000.
Barerra is also a repeat offender who faced a second-degree felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in June 2014.
SEC regional director David Peavler said that it will be difficult to reclaim a good part of the money. He also said that finding something of value to seize from the fraudsters might not work either as fraudsters often buy expensive houses that are usually mortgaged and lease expensive cars.
Peavler urges people to do their own research so as to avoid falling victim to fraudsters. “Fraudsters are counting on people not doing their homework. The more research done ahead of time, the less likely someone is to give a stranger their money for a scam,” he said.