October 17, 2018
“Probably Rat Poison Squared” - Warren Buffet referring to Bitcoin on CNBC May 5, 2018
“Trading Freshly Harvested Baby Brains” – Charlie Munger on cryptos, Yahoo Finance May 6, 2018
I have great respect for Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, but I thought that both were unnecessarily extreme and emotional when they issued those statements about the crypto world. Now, after reading the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) complaint against Blockvest and Reginald Buddy Ringgold III, I have come to side with Buffet and Munger.
I have an MBA from a Top 20 school, I hold the CFA and CAIA designations, and I have worked to establish an ethical career in finance for over 25 years. I didn’t become a finance professional to work next to con artists. My personal belief is that the crypto market has become gathering place for thieves and scam artists - when someone tells me that they are from the crypto world, they are now guilty until proven innocent. My firm uses advanced search processes to gather investment data, I used this technology to conduct a forensic search of Ringgold’s background to assemble the untold story of Ringgold and shed light on the scum flooding into cryptoland.
The Blockvest Enforcement
According to the complaint, the ICO’s founder and principal, Reginald Buddy Ringgold III, aka Rasool Abdul Rahim El, or “Ringgold”, positioned the ICO as the “first [U.S.] licensed and regulated tokenized crypto currency exchange and index fund.” The complaint went on to explain that Ringgold and Blockvest claimed that it had already raised more than $2.5 million in pre-ICO sales of its BLV digital tokens (“BLVs”)” and that it planned to “raise $100 million during its ICO, purported to fund Blockvest’s digital asset-related financial products and services.” Suckers are born every day.
The SEC complaint alleges that Blockvest falsely claimed that “their ICO had been ‘registered’ and ‘approved’ by the SEC and other regulators, even going so far as to use the SEC seal to promote their offering.” Ringgold even “created a fictitious regulatory agency, the ‘Blockchain Exchange Commission’ (BEC) that he claimed regulated the ‘Blockchain Digital Asset Space’.” This list of lies goes on and on: Blockvest claimed to be affiliated with Deloitte Touche, they designed a BEC seal to look like the SEC seal and linked the BEC seal to the SEC website.
Many websites and media outlets have recounted these facts; however, the real untold story is how a 30 something year old questionable, uneducated religious fanatic, who was once connected with a dubious credit company and sued the Oakland police department, established himself as a fintech guru and became the darling of the crypto world.
The Ringgold Story
Anyone who bothered to check into Ringgold’s background would have been suspicious of both Ringgold and his projects. Ringgold is about 34 years old and no one ever bothered to ask “What did Ringgold do before 2015?” I decided to use my firm’s web technology to uncover Ringgold’s checkered past.
His LinkedIn resume shows that he has been running Reginald Ringgold INC since 2006 with offices at 9465 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, but Reginald Ringgold INC does not show up on the property’s tenant list. However, there is a complaint review on www.ripoffreport.com, on May 21, 2008, that has Jarrad Lakey and Reginald Ringgold involved with Corporate Credit Association of America (CCA), Inc on 2333 San Ramon Valley Blvd, Suite 275 in San Ramon, CA. Apparently, some CCA’s clients were not to happy with the company’s products or services. On August 20, 2008, a Forcible Detainer is issued to evict Reginald Ringgold from 938 Waterstone Place, San Ramon, CA in the Contra Costa Municipal Court in Walnut Creek.
On May 17, 2010, he brought a complaint (Case3:10-cv-02110-JSW) under the civil rights acts against the City of Oakland, the Oakland Police Department, and Tristan Williams. The case was later dismissed on February 14, 2011 “without prejudice” by United States District Judge Jeffery S. White. Judge White dismissed the case because Ringgold failed to appear, failed to prosecute, and failed to comply with the Court’s Standing orders.”
In the expired LinkedIn account, Ringgold subsequently positioned himself has a Forex Instructor and a Currency Trader at ifundtraders.com, an FX trading site run by the dubious Oliver Velez. (This shouldn’t surprise you, but Oliver Velez received reviews “scam”, “Oliver is a Con”, “Rip-off”, and “Crook” on www.investimonials.com.)
Ringgold positions himself as “a finance expert with a[n][sic] eleven-year professional background across diverse matters of the finance industry” in this old LinkedIn profile. The profile further states that “Mr. Ringgold has been a full-time financial trader for several years, trading European, US, and Asian markets.”
Mr. Ringgold must be a genius because he has no listed educational background or previous trading experience. He runs his FX Technical Analysis courses, along with other “Financial Market Investor Courses” (including crypto currency courses) at https://reginaldringgold.com/courses/ where it shows pictures of him purportedly teaching a group of unlucky saps.
Encouraged by his ability to “buffalo” the millennial crowd, Ringgold realized the opportunities for his “unique skill set” could be more richly rewarded in the crypto space. He launched a new LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/in/reginald-ringgold-iii/) that positioned him as crypto guru and “top Fintech Influencer.” He posts pictures of himself on the empty Blockchain Economic Forum stage where he claims to have given the keynote speech, yet he is not even listed on the program. He claims to have appeared on CNBC and to have been interviewed at the NASDAQ; there is no record of either appearance. There are some pictures or videos with Ringgold in a chair with some other folks at the NASDAQ.
BEC was “originally formed as Fartlife LLC in January 2015, changed its name to Smartlife in 2017, then changed its name to the BEC in May 2018.” This alone should have set off some alarm bells. The alias, Rasool Abdul Rahim El, was used to open various securities accounts according to the SEC complaint. The name comes from the following a blogpost in which Ringgold (or Abdul-Rahmin?) claims to be a “Free and Sovereign Aboriginal Indigenous Moorish National” and to “peacefully and lawfully exist free of all statutory obligations restrictions and maintain all rights to trade, exchange, or barter.” According to the Islamic-based Moorish National Republic website, Moorish Americans are descendants of Moroccans born in America and are “American Nationals NOT “Sovereign Citizens.”
This hype was apparently enough to earn him an interview spot with Michael Yorba on CEO Money TV on June 28, 2018 where he appeared in his finest hoody and showed his ability to talk about subjects that he knew nothing about. https://www.wfn1.com/wfn1-tv/video-interviews/reginald-ringgold-from-blockvest-on-ceo-money-tv/. The host, Michael Yorba (who is evidently included in Blockvest’s bounty campaign), even praises Ringgold’s efforts and encourages him to refer investors to his channel.
The crypto industry apparently enjoyed Ringgold’s tonic, he cleverly parlayed this the CEO Money interview and other social media appearances to earn a speaker spot at the “Meet the Investors: VC, Angels, and ICOs” sponsored by FundingPost.com on October 9, 2018. However, the SEC acted with such speed that Ringgold was blocked from appearing and his assets have been frozen.
If you listen closely, Ringgold speaks gobbledygook. He touts Blockvest as a “Decentralized exchange that houses block-chain assets” and goes on to explain that decentralization offers the advantages of greater security and reduced cost – but doesn’t explain how that will work and, by the way, isn’t a blockchain an decentralized operation to begin with? He claims to be a widely published author, but his books cannot be found, not even on Amazon or Google Books.
He is going to start a crypto index fund, but only thirty percent of the total amount contributed during the offering will go directly towards buying the underlying index cryptocurrencies – the rest will “act as a buffer to prevent volatility.” Does he mean that it will have a subordinated tranche? How will it track the index?
Meanwhile Ringgold displays his complete ignorance of financial regulation when he alludes to Dodd-Frank as the legislation that opened “the flood gates for the unaccredited investors to have access to these digital assets.” The SEC complaint states that he filed Form D with the SEC but on his website he claimed exemption under “Regulation A pursuant to Section 401 of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012.”
Call To Action
The SEC continues to scrutinize the crypto world due to that market’s reluctance and inability to police itself. Crypto world is unable to offer even minimal investor protection against dubious participants. The Blockvest ICA became its latest target when the regulatory agency brought an emergency action to halt “ongoing investment fraud” involving the ICO’s launch. The Blockvest enforcement adds to the long list of negative news for the industry, from previous SEC enforcements, including ongoing fraud perpetuated on investors, and to the complete ban of ICO advertising by Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
We, the professionals in the finance industry, need to play a role in cleaning up the Crypto space. The SEC can’t do this all alone. The CFAs, the CPAs, the CAIAS and the lawyers of the finance world need to be responsible for a minimum level of due diligence and demand basic information from crypto promoters to establish credibility before we give them a pulpit.
We need proactively report operations like Blockvest to the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Firms or individuals, such as CEO Money TV and FundingPost.com, need to take more responsibility for the trustworthiness and ethical standing of the players that they feature on their platforms. We all need to stop giving these bad actors the pulpit in public forums and through our social media channels.
SEC Complaint Link:
Vernon Budinger is a financial professional with 25 years of experience in the world financial markets. He holds the CFA and the CAIA designation.
Vernon H. Budinger
Neural Profit Engines