The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged four individuals and two companies with operating a $30 million Ponzi scheme that asked elderly investors to cash out of their 401(k)s and IRAs or use home equity lines of credit to invest in so-called “green” securities.

The four individuals are former husband and wife Wayde and Donna McKelvy, of Denver, who ran the fraudulent Speed of Wealth company, and Troy Wragg and Amanda Knorr of Philadelphia.

The SEC says that the “green” investments were bogus and that the investors were falsely promised “consistent and safe” returns of 17% to several hundreds percent. One of the so-called investments was the fictitious real estate Mantria Corp. that operated a “carbon negative” housing community in rural Tennessee and manufactured a charcoal substitute made from organic waste.

“These promoters fraudulently exaggerated Mantria’s green initiatives and used high-pressure tactics to convince investors to chase the promise of lucrative returns,” said Don Hoerl, director of the SEC’s Denver regional office. “In reality, the only green these promoters seemed interested in was investors’ money.”

According to the SEC, Speed of Wealth advertised its services through TV, radio and print advertisements as well as seminars and webinars.

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